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Full text of "The independent : a magazine for video and filmmakers"

a magazine for video and filmmakers 



THE 





Jan/Feb 2006 




"7^70"801U' 6 



A Publication of The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 

www.aivf.org 



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Volume 29 Number i 

Cover: Johnny Physical is the subject of Physical Therapy, a short film by Joshua Neuman 
(photo courtesy of Joshua Neuman) 



Contents 



Upfront 

5 EDITOR'S LETTER 

6 CONTRIBUTORS 

8 NEWS 

The Center for Social Media's fair use report; 
Vision Test and AT&T; Independence MovieFest 
By Fiona Ng and Erica Berenstein 

14 UTILIZE IT 

Tools and news you can use 
By David Aim 

1 5 ON DVD 

Reviews of films now available on DVD 
By Shana Liebman 

17 DOC DOCTOR 

How to stretch your film beyond a short; Can a 
fundraising trailer become a short? 
By Fernanda Rossi 

19 ON THE SCENE 

NAATA celebrates 25 years of supporting 
Asian Pacific American filmmaking 
By April Elkjer 

24 PRODUCTION JOURNAL 

Making Physical Therapy — 
the life and death of Johnny Physical 
By Joshua Neuman 

28 BOOK REVIEW 

The Mind of the Modern Moviemaker: 20 
Conversations with the New Generation of 
Filmmakers 

Bv Ethan Alter 



Features 



32 THE SHORT STORY AT SUNDANCE 

Behind the scenes with Sundance's short film 
programmers 

By Nick Schager 

36 WITNESS TO CHANGE 

Peter Gabriel's organization harnesses the 
power of putting human rights coverage on film 
By Elizabeth Angell 

40 UTOPIC MACDOWELL 

Filmmakers find a creative retreat at the New 
Hampshire artists' colony 
Bv Katherine Dykstra 



44 POLICY 

Expanding broadband: the legislative battle 
By Matt Dunne 



Listings 

46 FESTIVALS 
55 CLASSIFIEDS 
57 NOTICES 
61 WORK WANTED 

63 THANKS 

64 THE LIST 



www. aivf.org 



January-February 2 



le Independent 3 



June 17-24 2006 
at Vassar College 
Poughkeepsie, 
New York 

Register Online at 
www.flahertyseminar.org 



creative 
demolition 



the 52nd Robert Flaherty Film Seminar 

GUEST CURATORS: ARIELLA BEN-DOV & STEVE SEID 




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ifs@flahertyseminar.org 





/AND VIDEO W 

Publisher: Bienvenida Matias 

(publisher@aivf org] 

Editor-in-Chief: Rebecca Carroll 

leditor@aivf.org] 

Managing Editor: Shana Liebman 

[independent@aivf.org] 

Associate Editor: Katherine Dykstra 

|fact@aivf org] 

Designer: R. Benjamin Brown 

[benbrowngraphic@msn.com] 

Production Associate: Timothy Schmidt 

[graphics@aivf.org] 

Editorial Associate: Erica Berenstein 

[notices@aivf.org] 

Contributing Editors: 

Sherman Alexie, David Aim, Pat Aufderheide, 

Monique Cormier, Bo Mehrad, Cara Mertes, Kate Turtle 

Contributing Writers: 

Elizabeth Angell, Margaret Coble, Lisa Selin Davis, 

Matt Dunne, Gadi Harel, Rick Harrison 

Advertising Representative: Veronica Shea 

(212) 807-1400 x232; [veronica@aivf.orgl 

Advertising Representative: Michael Tierno 

(212) 807-1400 x234; [mike@aivf.org] 

Classified Advertising: Michael Tierno 

(212) 807-1400 x241; [classifieds@aivf.org] 

• 

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POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: 

The Independent 
304 Hudson St.. 6 fl„ New York, NY 10013 

The Independent (ISSN 1077-8918) is published monthly (except 
combined issues January/February and July/August) by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film (FIVF), a 501 (c)(3) ded- 
icated to the advancement of media arts and artists. Subscription 
to the magazine is included in annual membership dues ($70/yr 
individual; $40/yr student; $200/yr nonprofit/school, $200-700/yr 
business/industry) paid to the Association of Independent Video 
and Filmmakers (AIVF), the national professional association of 
individuals involved in moving image media. Library subscriptions 
are $75/yr. Contact: AIVF 304 Hudson St., 6 fl., New York, NY 
10013, (212) 807-1400, fax: (212) 463-8519; info@aivf.org. 

Periodical Postage paid at New York, New York 
and at additional mailing offices. 

Printed In the USA by Cadmus Specialty Publications 



Publication of The Independent made possible in 
^P part with public funds from the New York State 
:.v.:;,'.: Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the 
'• National Endowment for the Arts, a federal 

agency. 

Publication of any ad in The Independent does not consti- 
tute an endorsement. AIVF/FIVF are not responsible for 
any claims made in an ad. All contents are copyright of the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film, Inc. Reprints 
require written permission and acknowledgement of the 
article's previous appearance in The Independent. The 
Independent is indexed in the Alternative Press Index and 
is a member of the Independent Press Association. 

AIVF/FIVF staff: Bienvenida Matias, executive director; 
Sean Shodahl, program director; Priscilla Grim, member- 
ship director; Katie Amslie, information services director; 
Web Services US, Taishon Black, technology consultant; 
David Diez, Claro de los Reyes, Benu Laniry, interns; 
AIVF/FIVF legal counsel: Robert I. Freedman, Esq., 
Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard. 

AIVF Board of Directors: Paula Manley (Secretary), 
Bienvenida Matias (ex oficio), Simon Tarr (Chair/Treasurer), 
Elizabeth Thompson (President), Bart Weiss. 

© Foundation for Independent Video & Film, Inc. 2005 
Visit The Independent online at: www.aivf.org 



4 The Independent I January-February 2006 




EDITOR'S LETTER 



Dear Readers, 

This issue is kind of a mixed bag. Id 
meant for it to be about shorts, and there 
is one fine piece here that falls under that 
rubric — about the smart, dedicated folks 
who program the shorts at Sundance 
each year, "The Short Story at Sundance" 
by Nick Schager (pg 36). But for the 
most part, because this is my last issue 
and I allowed myself a little creative 
indulgence (OK, more so than usual), I 
ended up going a bit flippy-floppy with 
the content. 

I decided to run a piece on the 
MacDowell artists' colony, because as 
both a writer who has benefited from 
artist and writer residency programs and 
a New Hampshire native (where the 
MacDowell colony is located), it provides 
a great opportunity to introduce film- 
makers to a really valuable alternative (to 
begging and borrowing from your par- 
ents or going into credit card debt) in a 
very beautiful place (what New 
Hampshire lacks in diversity it makes up 
for in its scenic splendor). So The 
Independents associate editor, Katherine 
Dykstra, went to work and delivered the 
goods (pg40). 

I'm always interested and amazed by 
people and organizations that mean well 
and do well. WITNESS is one such 
organization, and there was no one better 
to write about them than regular contrib- 
utor Elizabeth Angell, who has managed 
to consistently deliver pitch-perfect, gen- 
erous, and literary work with each piece 
I've assigned her over the past two years. 



Her story on WITNESS is clearly no 
exception, as evidenced through the pas- 
sion and candor she elicited from the 
organization's program manager, Sam 
Gregory: "We stress that you are not 
making a video about an issue, but rather 
for a purpose, for an audience. You want 
to persuade and shame and move that 
audience.'' (pg 36) 

Also in this issue: a review of a timely 
and interesting book, The Mind of the 
Modern Filmmaker, by Josh Horowitz; 
our policy columnist Matt Dunne on 
broadband; Asian American organization 
NAATA turns 25 and celebrates by 
changing its name; and Heeb magazine's 
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Joshua 
Neuman offers a poignant and unsenti- 
mental account of his experience docu- 
menting the life and death of his younger 
brother. 

There are lots of things I will miss 
about this job, but more than anything 
else I will miss my staff (all five of them), 
and especially Shana Liebman, who I am 
happy to report will succeed me this 
month as editor-in-chief. Shana and I 
enjoyed that rare working relationship in 
which we could pretty much communi- 
cate without really saying anything — a 
shared sensibility, sense of humor, and 
work ethic made the challenge and grind 
of getting this magazine out each month 
if not always a complete joy, at least well 
worth it. 

I put a lot of heart into this magazine, 
and I'm indebted to you, the readers, for 
appreciating my vision, and for keeping 
me on my toes. 

Thank you, and thanks for reading 

The Independent, 

Rebecca Carroll 

Editor-in-Chief 







V*- 




Pay only $168 for 52 issues* of 
Variety and with your subscription 
you will receive 24/7 access to 
Variety.com 

To take advantage of this offer 
call: 

1-800-323-4345 

and mention The Independent. 

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January-February 2P The Independent 5 



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CONTRIB 



DAVID ALM teaches film history and 
writing at two colleges in Chicago. His 
writing has appeared in ArtByte, 
Camerawork, RES, Silicon Alley Reporter, 
SOMA, and The Utne Reader. He's also 
contributed to books on web design and 
digital filmmaking, and assisted in mak- 
ing documentaries about architecture and 
garbage. 

ETHAN ALTER is a New York-based 
film critic and journalist whose work has 
appeared in a variety of publications, 
including Entertainment Weekly, TV 
Guide, and FHM. He regularly reviews 
movies for Film Journal International and 
Cineman Syndicate, as well as on his web- 
site, www.nycfilmcritic.com. 

ELIZABETH ANGELL is a freelance 
writer living in New York. She recently 
received an MFA in creative writing from 
Columbia and is at work on her first book. 




MATT DUNNE is the Democratic 
state senator of Vermont and founder of 
the Vermont Film Commission. 
Previously, he served two and a half 
years as National Director of 
AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in 
Service to America) and four terms as a 
Vermont state representative. 

KATHERINE DYKSTRA, The 

Independents associate editor, is also a 
contributor at The New York Post and a 
freelance writer and editor. Her work has 
appeared in Time Out New York, Fodor's 
travel guides, Allure, Redbook, and 
Ironminds.com. She is a recent graduate 
of The New School University's nonfic- 
tion MFA program. And she spends 
Wednesday afternoons teaching creative 
writing to the coolest kids in Harlem. 

APRIL ELKJER is a producer for 
Pacific Fusion TV, an Asian Pacific 
American magazine-style TV show. She 
also serves on the board of Access San 
Francisco, cable channel 29, public access 
television for the city and county of San 
Francisco, www.pacificfusiontv.com 




ERICA BERENSTEIN is The 

Independents editorial associate. She is 

working on becoming a freelance writer 

and a documentary filmmaker. She 

recently produced two documentary JOSHUA NEUMAN is the editor 

videos in Zambia and is in the process of and publisher of Heeb Magazine. He is a 

editing a third. graduate of Brown University and the 



6 The Independent I January-February 2006 



JTORS 



Harvard Divinity School. He has taught 
philosophy courses at NYU, consulted 
for Comedy Central, appeared on VH1, 
Court TV, and NPR and is the co- 
author of The Big Book of Jewish 
Conspiracies (St Martins Press, 2005). 
The Los Angeles Times called him "one 
part scholar and one part Beastie Boy." 
He lives in downtown Manhattan in a 
building his father could have bought 
for $12 in 1974. 

FIONA NG lives in Los Angeles. She 
has written about film for The New York 
Times, Los Angeles Times, Nerve.com 
and other publications. 

FERNANDA ROSSI is a filmmaker 
and script/documentary doctor. She also 
leads the nationwide Documentary 
Dialogues discussions offered by AIVF. 
For more info, visit www.documentary 
doctor.com. 




NICK SCFIAGER is a freelance jour- 
nalist and film critic whose writing has 
appeared in The Village Voice, Complex 
magazine, Slant magazine, and other 
print and online publications. He 
recently received a master's degree in 
journalism from Columbia University, 
and his work can be found at 
www.nickschager.com. 




Production Insurance, Errors & Omissions, etc. 

Debra Kozee 



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19 Fulton Street, Suite 308A, New York, NY 10038 

Tel: 800.257.088 3 Fax: 212.406.7584 

www.ttocumentary-insiiraiice.com 




January-February 2006 I The Independent 7 



NEWS 

Best Practices 
for Fair Use 

A new report from 

The Center for Social Media 




By Fiona Ng 

The "Documentary Filmmakers' 
Statement of Best Practices on Fair 
Use" was released by The Center 
for Social Media last November, with the 
intention of providing clear and set guide- 
lines to the controversial issue of "fair use" 
in documentary filmmaking. Drawn up 
by five film and media organizations 
(among them, this magazine's parent 
organization, the Association of 
Independent Video and Filmmakers), the 
statement takes on the semantic fuzziness 
of fair use by outlining four different non- 
exhaustive but commonly occurring con- 
ditions in which it could be justifiably 
applied. 

Amorphous and highly subjective, fair 
use is the part of copyright law that allows 
documentary filmmakers to cite, quote, or 
use copyrighted material without clear- 
ance for specific purposes. Because there 
are no hard and last rules on what qualifies 
as fair use, the problem, says Pat 
Aufderheide, a professor and the director 
ol the Center for social media at American 
University, is that many filmmakers are 
either uninformed or discouraged from 
using it. "Everyday journalists use fair use 
and don't think about it, everyday histori- 
ans use fair use and don't think about it," 
says Aufderheide, who co-spearheaded the 
project with American University law pro- 
fessor Peter Jaszi. "Documentarians have 
not really realized it's their right, because 
everyone's been telling them it's dangerous 
to use this right." 



Pat Aufderheide, a professor and the director of the Center for Social 
Media at American University [photo courtesy American University] 



The impetus for the statement 
stemmed from a 2004 study Aufderheide 
and Jaszi conducted called "Untold 
Stories," which detailed how rights clear- 
ance issues impede free speech in docu- 
mentary film work. What also emerged 
from these findings was that fair use was 
largely an obscure notion to many film- 
makers. 

For the next year, Aufderheide and Jaszi 
began to work on a set of standards for its 
application by tapping into the experi- 
ences of documentarians from the partici- 
pating organizations. The deliberation 
process took place over more than 10 
meetings, characterized by an air of con- 
scientiousness. "The [filmmakers] want to 
ensure their own work is not exploited, so 
they have chosen to be extremely con- 
scious in what they believe to be best prac- 
tices. They were really remarkably in con- 
sensus, and we heard the same thing every- 
where we went," Aufderheide says. "The 
thing that most impressed me is the deep 
concern to maintain integrity of this use all 
the way through. People were terribly wor- 
ried that they would abuse it and exploit it. 
And they weren't just worried that someone 
might exploit their material, but they have 
a profound sense what fair is." 

The next step, Aufderheide says, is dis- 
semination: passing the word to films, 
programmers, and insurers, while devel- 
oping more educational material. Part ol 
the plan also includes establishing a net- 
work of legal clinics across the country 



able to answer questions about fair use. 

One person that knows a thing or rwo 
about exercising this right is Brave New 
Films' Jim Gilliam, who co-produced 
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on 
Journalism (2004) with director-producer 
Robert Greenwald. The expose is among 
the best-known recent examples of fair use 
in a documentary, having drawn media 
and public attention (and the vitriol of Bill 
O'Reilly) to the use of Fox news footage in 
lambasting the channel for its Right-lean- 
ing agenda. 

Gilliam said that they were deliberate in 
using the Fox videos as fair use. Using the 
master's tools to bring down the master's 
house, so to speak. "For us, it was a lot 
about trying to make sure we didn't claim 
fair use for something that wasn't airtight. 
We wanted to keep it for [the] very specif- 
ic stuff [about which] we were being criti- 
cal of Fox for, as a sort of slam dunk," he 
says, adding that they did also try to clear 
as much footage as possible for all their 
films. 

Although Gilliam felt confident about 
his fair use implementation, he also said 
that if need be, he and his team were pre- 
pared to go to court to defend it. 
Surprisingly, Fox didn't sue. "By them not 
[suing us], it did set a precedent in a way. 
Maybe not a legal precedent, but look, if 
you use news footage to criticize someone, 
something that they would never give you 
permission to use, in the most severe case, 
fair use gives you the power to challenge 



8 The Independent I January-February 2006 



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the powers that be," Gilliam says. 

But before that challenge can happen, 
filmmakers must get the go-ahead from 
their legal people. "What it comes down to 
is what your lawyers are going to let you 
use. Would insurance [companies] let you 
release a film with footage you didn't clear? 
That's where it hits the rope," says Gilliam. 

Risk assessment, says Joy Butler, an 
entertainment and business attorney in 
Washington DC who specializes in clear- 
ance rights for independent film and 
music, is exactly what filmmakers should 
consider before they claim a usage is fair. 
Butler's book, The Permission Seekers 
Guide Through the Legal Jungle, focuses 
almost entirely on this issue. "[I]f you are 
using copyrighted material, there is always 
some level of risk. You have to evaluate if 
you want to take that risk," Butler says. 
These risks include being sued and losing, 
in which case the defendants either have to 
pay monetary damages or pull their films 
from distribution. In the end, only a judge 
can decide whether fair use is in proper 
practice. Still, Butler applauds the release 
of the Center's statement. "I believe it's a 
good effort to draft something like that. It 



is not conclusive but it is a very good 
start," she says. "A huge step forward 
would be if a court looking at copyright 
infringement cites this statement." 

Vision Test and AT&T 

"Ideally you're making films for other 
people to see and however that actually 
happens. . ." Wes Kim first responded after 
hearing that his short film Vision Test had 
been screened by Lois Baaumerich, the 
director of corporate equal opportunity/ 
affirmative action at AT&T. 

In Kim's smart six-minute film, a series 
of blurry seeing-eye charts are replaced 
with pairs of juxtaposed photographs; a 
white woman and a black man, an Asian 
man and a white man, an Asian family 
and a Jewish family gathered around a 
Menorah. An eye doctor asks questions 
about each pair of images: "Who would 
you be more comfortable with as president 
of the United States? Who would you be 
more comfortable with as your new neigh- 
bors?" While simple in both concept and 
production, Vision Test has now become 
widely recognized as a valuable teaching 
tool by teachers and other professionals, 



some of whom have adopted it as part of 
their employee training programs. 

So how did this small film from a 
novice filmmaker make its way onto 
AT&T's radar? Kim submitted Vision Test 
to a few traveling film festivals, such as the 
Microcinema International in San 
Francisco and the Media That Matters 
Film Festival based in New York, the latter 
annually showcases 16 independent social 
impact short films around the country and 
awarded Vision Test with the 2002 jury 
prize. And when Baumerich came across 
the Media That Matters festival online in 
February 2004, she was impressed by the 
creative way Vision Test addresses salient 
workplace issues such as racism, tolerance, 
and prejudice. 

This kind of recognition is great news 
for Media That Matters, suggesting that 
both the audience and the scope of the fes- 
tival are growing. "One of the things we 
are always trying to do," says Shira 
Golding, director of education and out- 
reach at MediaRights.org, the organiza- 
tion that organizes the festival, "is not just 
preach to the converted but reach people 
who don't traditionally see this kind of 




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10 The Independent I January-February 2006 




A still from Vision Test [photo by Wes Kim] 

media... Having media infiltrating the 
work place, especially in a big corporation 
like [AT&T], that has not happened very 
much in the past. To have this kind of 
work seen there and discussed and 
reviewed and hopefully impacting the way 
people think about themselves and their 
colleagues is very exciting." 

Kim, who made the film in response to 
a call for works in which artists consider 
what it means to be American, says he is 
"kind of floored that this particular film, 
made with such small means and also with 
so little intent for it to get out there, has 
become this thing where I keep hearing 
that somebody knows a teacher who is 
using [the film]. Or somebody knows 
somebody working at a company who saw 
it somehow and is using it." 

Inspired by the attention surrounding 
Vision Test, MediaRights.org is currently 
working on a partnership with the Society 
for Human Resources Management, one 
tenet of which would include screening 
the Media That Matters Film Festival at 
the society's yearly conference, with the 
hope of encouraging HR professionals to 
get online and access the MediaRights.org 
database and its extensive collection of 
social impact films. "All the films are very 
powerful to educate employees about 
issues in the community," says Golding. 

The case of Vision Test, while unique, 
clearly indicates that regardless of budget 
or resources, an insightful piece that 



speaks to compelling social issues can have 
an impact, helping others pursue goals of 
awareness and education while giving the 
filmmaker exposure. "It's kind of wild," 
says Kim. "If you're lucky enough to make 
something that has an impact on people, it 
will develop its own legs. Whether you 
capitalize on that or not is up to you." 

— Erica Berenstein 

Independence MovieFest 

Sick of hustling to get your film shown? 
Try Independence MovieFest (iMF), an 
online festival that guarantees a 100 per- 
cent acceptance rate showing all submitted 
entries, regardless of length, in crisp DVD 
quality. 

The festival, a joint effort by digital 
entertainment companies Kaneva and 
Ideas United (the founders of Campus 
MovieFest), is open for submissions until 
May 15, 2006 in the genres of drama, 
comedy, and documentary in both short 
and long formats. Within each category 
online audiences get to vote for their 
favorite 25, out of which a panel of judges 
will then choose the final winners. The 
"Best of iMF" and "Audience Choice" 
awards will be unveiled on July 4, 2006, 
the last day of the festival. 

To post your film you need a media 
launcher, the backbone of the festival, 
which is downloadable from its website. 
Alternately, there is the option of submit- 
ting your film offline via snail-mail (there's 



an entry fee in either case). Once 
uploaded, audiences with a purchased fes- 
tival pass [less than $10] can download 
films directly onto their desktops or watch 
shorts — 30 minutes and less — via real- 
time streaming. 

The event, which couples unlimited 
entries with the unlimited potential of the 
web, is stretching the bounds of the film 
festival. "With the internet you don't have 
a restriction of audience, you don't have a 
restriction of the number of theatres," says 
Chris Klaus, Kaneva's CEO. "One reason 
why festivals accept only 100, 200 films is 
because they only have so many screens or 
so much time. But if audiences look at 
[films] on the computer, they can watch 
an unlimited number of films." 

And unlimited audiences means unlim- 
ited exposure. "We brainstormed on how 
to come up with an online film festival. 
[Campus MovieFest] has experience doing 
red-carpet festivals at a school level. Their 
events have always been: Let's meet at this 
theater and show movies," says Klaus, 
explaining how festivals with a physical 
address are by nature restrictive. "This is a 
common issue with any festivals — how 
[much of an] audience can you build up 
with a geographical limit?" 

The benefits of iMF don't stop when 
the festival is over. Filmmakers are invited 
to leave their films on Kaneva's web site 
(www.kaneva.com) and sell them online. 
All you have to do is set a price on your 
labor of love, and Kaneva will press your 
film on DVD, then package, and send out 
each online order. You get a non-exclusive 
deal (meaning you can show or sell your 
film at other festivals or venues) and up to 
70 percent of the profit contingent on the 
amount sold. 

There are only two kinds of films iMF 
doesn't accept: those you do not own the 
rights to — like, says Klaus, Spiderman — 
and any containing pornography. Other 
than that, Klaus says the festival is ideo- 
logically impartial and non-judgmental. 
"We are not sitting there like, 'We don't 
like this film so we won't put it on.' We 
don't want to limit the filmmaker in mak- 
ing what he or she wants to make." 

— Fiona Ng ~k 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 11 



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By David Aim 

Keep a Low Profile 

This fall, SL Cine, a Los Angeles film 
magazine manufacturer, introduced its 
latest low-profile magazine designed 
specifically for the ARRlflex 235 camera 
(one of the multi-city equipment rental 
firms most popular and versatile cam- 
eras). The new SL-235LP displacement- 
style magazine features an extended 
throat for horizontal film load. With its 
compact, low profile, the SL-235LP is 
especially suited for remote, handheld, or 
super low-profile applications. Made of 
ultra-lightweight aircraft-grade alu- 
minum, the SL-235LP weighs just 3.9 
pounds and measures 15" x 7.5" x 2". 




The Coco-DVL Power Converter 
[photo courtesy of 16x9 Inc.] 

Features include a manual footage count- 
er built into the door and a speed range 



of 0-150 fps. For more information visit 
www.slcine.com. 

Camcorder Accoutrements 

If you don't have a Sony camcorder, 
now could be a good time to buy one. In 
November, the Burbank-based camera 
accessories firm 16x9 Inc. introduced the 
latest in ever lighter and more efficient 
power sources: the Coco-DVL Power 
Converter. Compact and reasonably 
priced, the Coco-DVL draws voltage 
from Sony NPF970 series batteries to 
simultaneously power your camera and 
such 12V accessories as lights, on-board 
LCD monitors, and audio receivers. The 
converter can replace your camera's 7.2V 
NPF battery and can transfer 7.2V of 
power and Info-Lithium data from the 
battery directly to the camera while con- 
verting 7.2V to 12V for its accessories. 
Run time in record mode: 135 minutes. 
For a special introductory price of $300 
(suggested retail price is $335), 16x9 Inc. 
will throw in its ultra-lightweight cam- 
era light, the Lux-DV 

Lest you think we're getting kick- 
backs from Sony, allow us to plug 
another offering from 16x9 Inc. for JVC 
camcorders. The Chrosziel Mattebox 
System and 4x4 Clamp-on Sunshade 
System is specifically designed for the 
JVC GY-HD100 (though it also works 
with other JVC models). With 16:9 
housing and a snap-in 16:9 insert mask, 
the system offers precise shading capa- 
bilities for any setting. Features include a 
full-size French flag, filterstage for 2 fil- 
ter holders, one 4x4 rotating and one 
4x4/4x5.65 fixed combination filter 



holder, a pivot mechanism (for optional 
side wings), and a 1 10:85mm insert ring. 
The system also includes a center brack- 
et and lightweight support system with 
15mm rods to ensure secure mounting. 
For cine-style feel and function, extra 
options include the Chrosziel DV Studio 
rig follow focus and Focus Gear Drive. 
The introductory price of $1566 will 
soon hike up to $1800; the optional fea- 
tures are also on sale. For more informa- 
tion on either the Coco-DVL or the 
Chrosziel Mattebox System and shade 
system, visit www.l6x9inc.com. 

Editing on the Fly 

For the on-the-go editor, Matrox 
released what it claims is the world's first 
external upgrade designed to deliver 
multi-display support to compatible lap- 
tops. The palm-sized box connects to the 
VGA output of a laptop, and allows you 
to attach two external displays to your 
system and run Windows at a resolution 
up to 2560x1024 across both displays. 
The system can also deliver multi-display 
options, thus maximizing your editing 
application's usability. DualHead2Go 
can even be used in conjunction with 
your laptop's built-in display, thereby 
giving you three displays at once. 
Moreover, sound professionals can 
extend tracks and place mixers across all 
three displays, while graphics designers 
can view photo editing and desktop pub- 
lishing applications simultaneously. On 
the market since mid-November, 
DualHead2Go currently runs $169. For 
more, visit www.matrox.com. "& 



14 The Independent I January-February 2006 



on DVD 

Reviews of films now available on DVD 



By Shana Liebman 




HIGH POWERED 



SLaM 

NantN 

THE SPORT OF SPOKEN WORD 

' ^.MBYPAULOEVUN 





Awful Normal 

There is a helluva lot of crying in this 
movie — which isn't surprising as it is the 
story of two sisters who confront the man 
(their father's friend, Alan) who sexually 
abused them 25 years ago. Awful Normal, 
one of seven films that IndieWIRE chose 
for their 2005 Undiscovered Gems Film 
Festival, has a tremendous starting point 
with a natural arc, and the family dynam- 
ics yield some very rich material. It's a lit- 
tle surreal watching the sisters and their 
mother explain to Alan's now-grown chil- 
dren — whom they were friendly with as 
kids — that their father asked a five-year- 
old to give him a blowjob. The climactic 
scene in which the women confront 
Alan — most of which is an audio record- 
ing played against a black screen cut with 
home video clips of the girls as kids — is 
incredible. "I remember you were holding 
a Popsicle as I molested you," Alan says in 
full confession. There are other moving 
moments and it's heartening to see how 
satisfying a journey it is for the filmmak- 
ers — particularly for younger 
sister Celesta Davis, who made the film. 
But unlike Capturing the Friedmans, 



there's no mystery or subtly or outsider 
perspective on this horror, so all the 
emotional outpouring and self-question- 
ing make the film feel too much like a 
family therapy session, www.cineque ston- 
line.org 

SlamNation 

It's amazing that poetry slams — an oxy- 
moronic barroom sport that started in 
Chicago in 1986 — blossomed into a 
national grassroots art movement with 
such a large following. And it's certainly 
worth taking a look at how that happened. 
Paul Devlin's film, released in 1998 and 
just delivered to DVD with additional 
footage and filmmaker commentary, doc- 
uments the 1996 National Poetry Slam 
held in Portland, Oregon with 27 teams 
democratically competing for the title. 
The documentary follows the New York 
team, including Saul Williams, who stars 
in the fictional Slam, and Mums the 
Schemer, who plays "Poet" on HBO's 
"Oz." With a sports-journalism perspec- 
tive, Devlin offers interviews with com- 
petitors and clips of the contests. Aside 
from the occasional overindulgence in 



insider slang, it's a lively, fun, educational 
introduction to this movement. Fierce and 
adrenaline-fueled performances deliver 
palpably the conflict for competitors 
between the desire to win and the desire 
for artistic and genuine self-expression. 
www.docurama.com 

Dancing for Dollars 

Paul Borghese's documentary, which 
won several film festival awards, is a com- 
pelling glimpse into the lives of Canadian 
erotic dancers, who claim they are nothing 
like their American counterparts (or as 
they disparagingly refer to them: "strip- 
pers.") ''Showgirls was the most ridiculous 
thing ever," says one dancer about Paul 
Verhoeven's 1995 film (about which she is 
not alone in her thinking — the film was 
roundly panned). After watching their 
elaborate costume- and prop-filled rou- 
tines, it's easy to see why these Canadians 
dancers deserve credit for the "show" in 
showgirl. A series of interviews reveal some 
interesting personal stories, the business 
aspects of the industry (i.e. how posing for 
nudie magazines raises their "show price"), 
the extent of the individual planning and 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 15 



ANN ARBOR 




FILM FESTIVAL 

44th 

Annual 

Ann Arbor 

Film 

Festival 

MARCH 
21-26 
2006 



Burning minds with 

the brightest talent in 

experimental film 



For more information 
please visit 

www.aafilmfest.org 



IQQQQ! 



FACTORYI 



the bc/t of 




creativity that goes into each performance, 
how these women deal with family mem- 
bers who disapprove of their career choice 
and men who treat them as whores. The 
women, who seem to have been inter- 
viewed at generic, rural locations, are artic- 
ulate and the clips of their performances 
spliced with their confessions makes for a 
rich and entertaining film, www.imd 
films.com 

The Best of The Electric Company 

"The Electric Company" was such a 
brilliant show — and is, amazingly, still 
beloved by its fans. Even 30 years later 
(and even though IVe already mastered the 
differences between griddle and girdle), 
the hip '70s cast makes reading as much 
fun as doing flips on your bed when your 
mom is downstairs. There's such great 
energy and spirit behind the show's bright 
colors and funky music — and there's 
Morgan Freeman in a paisley headband 
and bellbottoms shaking his hips and 
singing "Easy Reader." You remember why 
you loved this show as a kid. I'm not sure 
if anyone over five will want to sit through 
all 20 episodes (again) or if a five-year-old 
today would still dig the vibe of this dated 
fantasyland. But the 4-disk set, which also 
includes interviews with Rita Moreno and 




creator Joan Ganz Cooney, and a 28-page 
booklet with essays by, among others, Dave 
Eggers, is a serious testament to the series' 
lasting success, www.shoutfactory.com 

Rize 

Only David LaChappelle, a music 
video director cum fashion photographer, 
could have figured out how to sustain the 
energy and rhythm that propels this film. 
His debut feature Rize, which was a hit at 
Sundance last year, documents krumping, 
an offshoot of hip-hop made up of fast, 
convulsive moves, which became an 
expression of anger, need, competition, 
and sex in southern California shortly 
after the Rodney King riots. Krumping 
arose from clowning, another hip-hop 
subculture, which involves pantomime 
and face-paint, and the conflict between 
the two groups provides what little story 
structure there is in this film. Although 
the political insight into how dance 
became a community-strengthening tac- 
tic for a desperate LA subculture is inter- 
esting and important, the film lacks 
enough personal details and stories about 
the dancers. Rize succeeds most as an 
amazingly vivid visual show of vibrant 
gyrations and glistening bodies. 
http://rizemovie.com/rize.php "k 



16 The Independent I January-February 2006 




the Documentary Doctor 



By Fernanda Rossi 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

I'm in my first week of editing, and 
I have this horrible feeling that my 100 
hours of footage won't be enough even 
for a short. How can I stretch my film 
beyond the short format? 

Most likely you are suffering first week 
editing jitters rather than a real short ver- 
sus long format dilemma. Sometimes we 
wonder: "Do I have enough to tell the 
story?" Other times: "Oh my God I have 
so much amazing material, I need a six- 
part series." Neither reflects the reality of 
the situation but more a projection of 
what the story structure could be. 

The decision between short and long 
format shouldn't be based on how much 
footage you've shot but rather on the 
story elements evident in that footage. 
Some questions to ask yourself, prefer- 
ably much earlier than the first day of 
editing, are: How many characters do I 
have? How many of those characters have 
a story arc? And how many aspects of 
that arc can I explore? How many of 
those aspects can be expanded and revis- 
ited? Many characters with strong story 
arcs call for long format, while portraits 
with fewer angles are generally better 
suited for shorts. 




You might have gone into your project 
with the intention of shooting a long for- 
mat film, and the topic or character wore 
thin. Although the opposite scenario is 
more common, going from long to short 
can be tough to accept and even tougher 
to explain to investors. Maybe you can 
wait and shoot more, or just embrace the 
great possibilities and rewards of a short. 

Cynthia Close, executive director of 
Documentary Educational Resources, a 
non-profit organization that produces, 
distributes, and promotes ethnographic 
and documentary films from around the 
world, assures us, "Length has never been 



a deciding factor for us in evaluating any 
film for distribution. The defining factor 
is the content. Festivals, our marketing 
platform, welcome shorts of various 
lengths, and we got awarded with both 
short shorts, Suckerfish (8 min) by Lisa 
Jackson and longer shorts, Cheerleader 
(24 min) by Kimberlee Bassford." 

She also sees a bright future for shorts 
on the smallest screens: "With digital 
technology making it possible to deliver 
content to hand-held devices — cell 
phone, iPod, Palm Pilot — short films are 
reaching new venues and markets as 
audiences hang by a strap on the subway 
on their way to work." In the very near 
future, jitters over whether or not you 
have enough footage will be replaced by 
the question of how all the footage you 
do have can be streamlined and down- 
loaded to a million cell phones. 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

People tell me the fundraising trail- 
er for my feature length doc is more 
like a short film. Should I submit it to 
festivals as a short to start a buzz for 
the feature length? 

Maybe you made a short film and 
decided to make a feature length film on 
the same topic. Rather than use your 
short to create a buzz for your longer 
film, I strongly suggest you spend a few 
days re-cutting that short into a real 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 17 



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fundraising trailer, which is not very 
hard to do. After getting rid of the cred- 
its, cut the definitive end and replace it 
with something that hints at what you 
will explore in the long format film. That 
hint is called a cliffhanger or a hook. 

If you don't change the ending, 
investors and grant organizations will 
ponder, and with good reason: Why 
invest in or finance something that 
works already as a short? What is the 
point in making it longer? Even if your 
proposal explains ad infinitum all the 
details that were left out of the short, it's 
hard to counteract in writing what a film 
conveys in imagery. 

If you set out to do a trailer and ended 
up with a short, don't let your enthusi- 
asm to attend festivals override market- 
ing common sense. After a successful run 
at festivals, it would be hard to convince 
audiences of a longer encore. Besides, 
your trailer can take you on the road too. 
Virgilio Bravo and Loira Limbal makers 
of Estilo Hip Hop gave wings to their 
demo: "We visited over 20 colleges and 
universities with our fundraising trailer 
and a presentation on the topic of the 
film — hip hop in Latin America as a 
grassroots organizing tool. That started a 
buzz among our target audience. We 
raised enough money to start the editing, 
and now we are expected back in all 
those places with the finished film." 

So embrace your trailer; it's not wasted 
time or money if you know how to use it. 
Although cross-pollination between 
shorts and fundraising trailers is some- 
times possible, it is hardly ever advisable. 
The financial and marketing risks are not 
worth whatever little you save in re-edit- 
ing one to create the other, -k 

Fernanda Rossi is a filmmaker and story 
consultant, and the author of Trailer 
Mechanics: A Guide to Making your 
Documentary Fundraising Trailer. 



18 The Independent I January-February 2006 



ON THE SCENE 




r yr > ^ 







By April Elkjer 

In the heart of San Francisco's 
Japantown at the Radisson Miyako 
Hotel, a roomful of filmmakers and 
community activists celebrated the 25th 
anniversary of a not-for-profit organiza- 
tion that funds, exhibits, and distributes 
Asian Pacific American film. 

The National Asian American 
Telecommunications Association or 
NAATA has much to celebrate: It has lit- 
erally changed the face of public televi- 
sion by presenting hundreds of programs 
that have reached millions of viewers 
nationwide. It is the largest distributor of 
Asian American media in the world with 
over 200 titles making their way into 
schools, libraries, museums, and commu- 
nity screening rooms. They host the 
world's biggest Asian American film festi- 
val with an audience of 25,000 that 
watches over 125 movies each year. 
Notable directors such as Ang Lee, M. 
Night Shyamalan, Mira Nair, Gurinder 
Chadha, Steven Okazaki, and Wayne 
Wang have all shown their early work at 
NAATA festivals. 

The event also marked the unveiling of 
a new name: The Center for Asian 
American Media. 



25th 

Celebrating Asian 
Pacific American film 




"We've outlived our name," explains 
Eddie Wong, executive director. "I think 
in the 1980s, when the word 'telecom- 
munications' meant satellite broadcast, it 
meant a new era for communications. 
Today telecommunications means cell 
phones, PDAs; it just doesn't mean the 
same thing anymore, so we decided to go 
with a streamlined name that actually 
goes with what we do." 



Ever at the forefront, the Center's birth 
can be traced back to 1980 at the 
University of California at Berkeley 
where Asian American media-makers, 
activists, and non-profit representatives 
gathered to discuss the state of Asian 
American media at the National 
Conference of Asian Pacific Producers in 
Public Broadcasting. 

"There was a lot of enthusiasm for the 



January-February 2006 \ The Independent 19 




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[Photo by Albert Chau] 



idea; the time was right and when the 
time is right, people come in there [and] 
they set their egos aside. There's a lot of 
healthy thinking," says Felicia Lowe, 
filmmaker and co-founder. "A collective 
sense of saying, 'Let's put our energies 
together; let's not compete but let's make 
something better' and that's what really 
formed the growth and creativity and the 
beginning of NAATA." 

The Center was formed to combat the 
lack of representation that many of those 
original conference-goers saw at the time 
in nationwide programming. In main- 
stream media, Asian American images 
ranged from overplayed stereotypes or 
worse, to actors in "yellow-face" — 
Breakfast at Tiffany's (Mickey Rooney as 
Mr. Yunioshi), The Good Earth (Paul 
Muni as Want Lung), or John Wayne as a 
yellow-faced Genghis Khan in The 
Conqueror. Ultimately, it seemed like no 
one knew what Asian Americans really 
looked like and what kinds of stories they 
had to tell. 

The founders of the Center for Asian 
American Media felt a great need to 



recast the Asian American image of "per- 
petual foreigner," so it crafted a mission 
to present stories that convey the richness 
and diversity of the Asian American expe- 
rience to the broadest audience possible. 

Twenty-five years later, many of the 
award-winning founders and friends of 
the Center were in attendance at the 
anniversary celebration, among them 
Loni Ding, who has produced over 250 
broadcasts including Ancestors in the 
Americas, a PBS series that explores the 
history and legacy of Asian Americans, 
and Spencer Nakasako, best known for 
his films dealing with Southeast Asian 
refugee youth — A.K.A. Don Bonus 
(1995) and Refugee (2005). 

Master of Ceremonies Nguyen Qui 
Due, host of KQED public radio's 
national program "Pacific Time," kept 
things lively as filmmakers, board mem- 
bers, and staff from various media groups, 
including the Asian American Journalists 
Association and Independent Television 
Service, mingled. Greg Chew, the San 
Francisco Film Commissioner, showed up 
to say a few words rounding out the 




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I 
I 



NBPC 

National Black 
Programming Consortium 



Chisholm '72: 

Unb ought and 

Unbossed 

hrother to Erotber 

A Place of Our Own 

FLAG WARS 

This Far By Faith 

A Huey P. Newton 
Story 

FUNDING FILMMAKERS 
SINCE 1979 

The National Black 

Programming Consortium 

(NBPC) is devoted to the 

production, distribution 

and promotion of diverse 

film and videos about 

African Americans and 

the experiences of the 

African Diaspora. 

V ' 

For more information 

about: 

•Grants 

•Workshops 

•Acquisitions 

•Distributions 

visit www.nbpc.tv 
or write to: 

NBPC 

68 East 131st Street 

7th Floor 
New York, NY 10037 

212-234-8200 

info@nbpc.tv 

RFP Applications now 

available! 

Submission Deadline 

June 2, 2006 



Independent Film Center, which began 
in 1983 when it moved into 346 Ninth 
Street with the Film Arts Foundation, the 
Bay Area's leading membership organiza- 
tion of independent filmmakers. 
Frameline, long at the forefront of LGBT 
media, joined in 1991, followed by the 
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in 




The original poster from the founding conference 
[photo courtesy of Nancy Horn] 



able to talk about who we are with 
humor versus the earnestness we felt was 
required at that time to set that basic 
library of standards." 

The Center also gives between 
$30,0000 and $50,000 seed money each 
year to independent filmmakers. All told, 
they've given a total of $3 million. 

"I think 
that over the 
last 25 years 
there is a 
greater appre- 
ciation for 
Asian Amer- 
ican history 
and stories of 
the Japanese 
American 
internment 
have gone 
deep in the 
schools," says 
Wong. "So I 
think there 

1995. Together this consortium of has been progress made at the same time 
media-makers decided to buy the build- there's many more Asian ethnicities in the 
ing at 145 Ninth Street (two blocks from US now than before, and those stories are 
its original location.) just beginning to be told — stories of the 

The Center for Asian American Media Mien people, the Hmong, and the 
is definitely here to stay, and with 25 Cambodians. So there's a lot more to do." 
years of perspective, its members and As the lights at the Miyako Hotel went 

staff can't help commenting on its dim, the crowd watched a selection of 
remarkable contributions to the Asian film clips from filmmakers who have 
American media landscape. benefited from the Center, starting with 

"I think the big change is the number the touching and gritty Who 1 Became by 
of films that are being made," says Wong. Mike Siv, which first aired on the PBS 
"[The number] increases every year, and series "Matters of Race" in fall 2003. The 
that's just a reflection [of the work the film tells the story of a young Khmer 
Center is doing]. The work is really get- American man, Pounloeu Chea — his 
ting good and getting diverse." years living on the streets, his trouble 

with the law, his pregnant girlfriend, and 
The Center funds and presents films, finally, his transformation into becoming 
documentaries, shorts, and experimental a father. Other notable films were The 
works, although it wasn't always as Grace Lee Project by Grace Lee, Halving 
diverse. "As one of the earlier pioneers in the Bonesby Ruth Ozeki Counsbury, and 
the business, I think many of us felt this My America ...or Honk if You Love 
really deep desire to create a basic Buddha by Renee Tajima-Pena. 
library," says Lowe. "A basic fundamental After that, it was lights on and time for 

history starting with things we didn't cake and champagne, 
have in terms of how we got here and "It's great, but I feel old," laughed 

who we are. To see the kinds of works Wayne Wang. "That means I'm way over 
that are available now, such as comedy 25!" "& 
and drama and narratives, is so different. 
It's an outgrowth of being able to laugh at 
ourselves and have the confidence to be 



22 The Independent I January-February 2006 



it..." -SCREEN INTERNATIONAL 



SILVERDOCS 

AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival 

JUNE 13-18, 2006 | 




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2006 DEADLINES / Early: January 27 | Regular: March 3 | Late: March 24 

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PRODUCTION JOURNAL 




PHYSICAL THERAPY 

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JOHNNY PHYSICAL 



By Joshua Neuman 

In October of 2000, my then 20-year- 
old brother Jonathan was sent to the 
oncology unit of Massachusetts 
General Hospital from the Tufts 
University campus infirmary after a 
month of persistent head and neck aches 
and a "suspicious" blood test. While in 
the waiting room, he stopped a nurse to 
ask what the word "oncology" meant. 
Less than 24 hours later he was diagnosed 
with leukemia. 

At the time, I was an adjunct professor 
at New York University teaching under- 
graduate courses in philosophy. But, 
when I picked up my SONY DX-1000, 



pointed it at Jonathan, and pressed 
record, I felt like a filmmaker. When I 
wasn't at NYU, I was filming Jonathan in 
Paramus, NJ in our childhood home, in a 
hospital room (where he spent about half 
of his time), or at my apartment in 
Manhattan. I wasn't capturing him on 
video because I thought he would die. 
Although today I am grateful to have so 
much footage of my brother, when the 
camera was recording, it never crossed 
our minds that we were creating an 
archive for posterity's sake. In our minds, 
we were creating a narrative for art's sake. 
A little background: Jonathan was a 



musician, a punk rocker to be more spe- 
cific. He founded a garage rock band in 
1999 called "The Physicals," started call- 
ing himself "Johnny Physical," and bap- 
tized the other members of the band: 
"Nick Fiction," "Danny Animal," and 
"Frankie Lines." The Physicals were 
voted the best band on campus at Tufts 
University in the spring of 2000, and the 
members' monikers were soon used more 
than their real names. So, long before my 
brother was the subject of my film narra- 
tive, he was the subject of his own narra- 
tive, one in which the line between life 
and art had already been blurred. 



24 The Independent I January-February 2006 





Jonathan Neuman (top) at WMFO in Medford, MA (Spring 2000); 
(bottom) with Danny Animal (Spring 2000) 



It felt perfectly natural to capture 
Jonathan's crisis on camera. He was used 
to being the center of attention and, 
more importantly, to performing a par- 
ticular part of himself for the sake of art. 
At first it was odd how Johnny Physical 
adapted to his new stage. Less than two 
weeks after he started chemotherapy 
treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering 
Cancer Center in New York, when his 
blood counts were still perilously low, he 
performed an acoustic show for the other 
patients, which was advertised on the 
hospital bulletin boards as "Johnny 
Physical Plugged." I was in the front row 
with my video camera as he wheeled his 
I.V. machine into the day room and 



broke into a new song he had written 
called "Chemotherapy." His hair shaved 
close, he was somewhere between Iggy 
Pop and Pee Wee Herman as he roared: 
"Chemotherapy, chemotherapy, it's what 
they're telling me." 

A few months into his treatment, 
Jonathan developed a strange ringing in 
his ears and lost sensation in the tips of 
his fingers, but this didn't discourage him 
from taking up the piano. He practiced 
into the wee hours of the night, falling in 
love with the instrument as well as with 
the works of the German romantic com- 
posers Schubert and Schumann. I shot a 
recital that he gave less than a year later. 

The Physicals' first record had been 



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January-February 2006 I The Independent 25 



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called "Get Physical With the Physicals." 
In this spirit, Jonathan and I planned to 
turn the footage we were capturing into a 
concert video called "Physical Therapy." 
In it, we would include footage from his 
acoustic show, from his jam session with 
Art Garfunkel (who heard about Johnny 
Physical and paid him a surprise visit in 
the hospital), and from his appearance as 
the "pinhead" at Joey Ramone's annual 
birthday bash at CBGB (a hero of 
Jonathan's since he was a teenager, Joey 
died of lymphoma in 2001). Slowly but 
surely, the legend of Johnny Physical 
grew. APvI-UP of the influential '70s 
punk band The Slits, also paid him a sur- 
prise visit in the hospital and Johnny 
would soon count 2001 Miss USA 
Candice Kruger and Sports Illustrated 
swimsuit cover girl Yamila among his 
legion of admirers. 

Jonathan's prognosis deteriorated but 
shooting of the film continued. Jonathan 
recorded an album of Johnny Cash covers 
when he could barely speak. He com- 
posed songs on an OmniChord OM-300 
when he couldn't hold a guitar. When 
even that became impossible, he simply 
made sounds into a tape recorder he kept 
at his bedside — a kind of verbal note- 
book. I captured all of it on video. 

A week before Jonathan's last visit to 
the intensive care unit, he was paid a visit 
by Albert Maysles, who at the time was 
shooting footage for a Bill Moyers docu- 
mentary about death. Albert planned to 
interview Jonathan for 20 minutes. He 
left after he ran out of tape, two and a 
half hours later. Albert noticed a newspa- 
per item from the Tufts Daily of Jonathan 
making out with "groupie 36,000." 
Jonathan tried to explain Johnny Physical 
to Albert, but told him that he'd have to 
see our film to fully understand. 



26 The Independent I January-February 2006 




Johnny Physical's alter ego. El Conquistador 
(Spring 2000) 

Jonathan passed away in June of 2002, 
over three years ago. At first, all I could 
do was stare at the stacks of digital tapes 
as they collected dust on my desk. Then, 
slowly but surely I started watching the 
raw footage, tape by tape, logging time 
code, and mapping out sequences on a 
yellow legal pad. I realized that in addi- 
tion to being about the power of music 
to transfigure experience, they were also 
about the camera's power. Looking at his 
arm for a clean vein for the next syringe, 
he was Sid Vicious searching for an angry 
fix. When the chemo started to make its 
way through his arm, he was Lou Reed 
rushing on a run. And, yes, on a very 
(very) rare occasion he was Joey Ramone 
meeting a nurse that he could go for. The 
Physicals had performed for crowds of 
hundreds when Jonathan was healthy, 
but the camera gave him an audience of 
infinite possibility. For the last year and a 
half of his life, in cold examining rooms, 
miserable waiting rooms, lonely hospital 
rooms, he was never just a patient. He 
was a rock 'n' roll legend. 

Albert Maysles was kind enough to 
grant me permission to use the tapes he 
had captured of Jonathan. My good 
friend Edet Belzberg agreed to executive 
produce. And in February, I will enter an 
editing studio to start working on my 
first short film. I want the film to unfold 
like a Physical song: fast, urgent, darkly 
comic, and fiercely unsentimental. Until 
someone discovers a cure for cancer, 
films about the disease will inevitably be 
sad. But this film, as you might have 
guessed by now, isn't really about cancer 
at all. * 

For more information about Johnny 
Physical, check out www.johnnyphysical.com. 



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Independent Narrative 

Filmmakers and Their Films 

On the beautiful Kohala Coast of Hawaii! ! 







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Call for entries - deadline: March i, 2006 
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■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ 1 ■ 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 27 



BOOK REVIEW 



By Ethan Alter 

Warning: If you're the 
kind of filmgoer (or, 
for that matter, film- 
maker) that's wary of all things 
mainstream, then the new book 
The Mind of the Modern 
Moviemaker will probably cause 
you to run screaming to your 
local art house cinema for a 10- 
hour Bela Tarr retrospective. 
Almost every one of the 20 direc- 
tors profiled has helmed a studio 
picture and several of them freely 
admit to being a proud part of 
the Hollywood system. As Rush 
Hour director Brett Ratner bold- 
ly states, "I don't ask for [final 
cut]. Why do I need [it]? Final 
cut is for 'artistes' quote 
unquote — directors who don't 
make a lot of money" 

In other words, don't pick up 
this book expecting to read about 
the next Bergman, Fellini, or 
even John Sayles. Still, author 
Josh Horowitz does present us 
with an interesting cross section 
of the generation of filmmakers 
currently making their presence 
felt in La-La Land. In addition to avowed 
company men like Ratner, Luke 
Greenfield, and Todd Phillips, the book 
also includes Q&A interviews with a few 
cult favorites (Kevin Smith, Richard 
Kelly), critical darlings (David Gordon 
Green, Neil LaBute), first-timers (Kerry 
Conran, Patty Jenkins), self-styled out- 
siders (Joe Carnahan, Trey Parker, and 
Matt Stone) and reliable journeymen (Jon 
Favreau, Chris and Paul Weitz). Horowitz 
even makes room for a universally reviled 
director like McG, who uses this oppor- 
tunity to insist that he's a deeper film- 
maker than the Charlie's Angels films sug- 
gest. "I wanted to do more with [Charlie's 
Angels: Full Throttle] than I was ultimate- 
ly able to do," he tells Horowitz with a 



Mind 

Over 

Matter 



THE MIND 

OF THE 

MODERN 

MOVIEMAKER 

20 

Conversations 

with the 

New Generation 

of Filmmakers 

Josh Horowitz 



INCLUDING 
KEVIN SMITH: Clerks. 
Chasing Amy 
McG: Charlie s Angels 
CHRIS i PAUL WEITZ: 
American Pie. Ahonl a Boy 
DOUGLIMAN: Wingers. 
The Bourne Identity 
MICHEL G0N0RY Eternal 
Sunshine ol the Spotless Mind 
TRET PARKER & MATT STONE: 
South Park. Team America 
NEIL LABUTE: hi the Company 
of Men. Horse Betty 
BRETT RATNER: nh Hour. 
X-Men 3 

TODD PHILLIPS: Old School 
ION FAVREAU: ■He.CII 
PATTY JENKINS: Monster 




straight face. What, was he planning on 
giving Cameron Diaz's booty its own sub- 
plot? 

In his introduction, Horowitz, a televi- 
sion producer and contributor to such 
magazines as Entertainment Weekly and Us 
Weekly, outlines his reasons for writing 
the book. "Countless books have been 
written about the seminal filmmakers of 
the 1970s. ..but the book I always wanted 
to read. ..was the one written then. As fas- 
cinating as it is today to hear someone like 
Spielberg or Scorsese or Coppola or De 
Palma reflect on the past, what were they 
thinking at the time and in the moment?" 
Rather than wait for the current crop of 
directors to grow older and perhaps wiser, 
Horowitz decided to capture some of 



them on the record right now. 
"The filmmakers in this book are 
still developing," he writes. "For 
many, their best work is yet to 
come and that is perhaps what is 
most exciting about them." 

While it's debatable whether 
McG or Luke Greenfield (whose 
credits include the Rob Schneider 
comedy The Animal and the 
mediocre Risky Business knock-off 
The Girl Next Door) are truly 
directors to get excited about, 
Horowitz's reasoning behind the 
book is sound. It's fun to hunt 
down old interviews with 
Spielberg and Scorsese before they 
became institutions. There's an 
immediacy and excitement in 
their responses that reflective 
career-spanning books such as 
Scorsese on Scorsese, as comprehen- 
sive as they are, can't replicate. 
One can imagine some of the 
directors profiled in The Mind of 
the Modem Moviemaker picking 
up the book 20 years from now 
and groaning at their naivete. But 
it might also spur them to recon- 
nect with why they fell in love with 
movies in the first place. And after two 
decades in Hollywood, anyone could use 
that kind of reminder. 

Describing his methodology for choos- 
ing which directors to speak with, 
Horowitz writes: "I had no hard and fast 
criteria for the filmmakers in this book 
other than talent and significant and 
promising contributions to American 
filmmaking." Given the book's grab-bag 
assortment of personalities though, it's 
safe to assume that the line-up was large- 
ly determined by which directors agreed 
to speak with him. One would be hard- 
pressed to argue, for example, that John 
Hamburg (director of Safe Men and Along 
Came Polly) has made more significant 



28 The Independent I January-February 2006 



contributions to American filmmaking 
than, say, Kimberly Pierce or Paul 
Thomas Anderson. In fact, Anderson is 
cited by many of the filmmakers in the 
book as an important contemporary 
influence, along with other usual suspects 
like David Fincher and Quentin 
Tarantino. Horowitz owns up to the 
absence of some of these heavy-hitters by 
writing, "Perhaps the greatest testament 
to the breadth of talent that exists today is 
that 20 more filmmakers could have 
added to this book without any diminish- 
ment of talent." 

Horowitz's introduction also acknowl- 
edges another element that's missing from 
the book's cast of characters: diversity. Of 
the 20 directors the author interviewed 
only two are women (Patty Jenkins and 
Karyn Kusama) and only one is African- 
American (F. Gary Gray). "The reality 
remains that Hollywood filmmaking is 
still dominated by one gender and race," 
Horowitz explains, adding vaguely that, 
"the playing field today is undeniably 
shifting and will, no doubt, continue to 
do so." While it's true that the pool of 
minority filmmakers in Hollywood 
remains limited, it's a shame that 
Horowitz only included three in his book 
when there are definitely more out there 
to choose from. Take Justin Lin, director 
of the Asian-American crime picture 
Better Luck Tomorrow, who helmed 
Disney's upcoming military-themed 
drama Annapolis and is currently shooting 
the third entry in Sony's Fast and the 
Furious franchise. Or what about Tim 
Story, the African-American director who 
leapt from Barbershop to Fox's summer 
blockbuster Fantastic Four*. You've also got 
Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy), Malcolm 
D. Lee {Undercover Brother), Catherine 
Hardwicke ( Thirteen and Lords of 
Dogtown)... the list goes on. Surely any of 
these filmmakers would have a more 
interesting perspective on breaking into 
the industry than McG. At least Karyn 
Kusama is on hand to talk about going 
from the low-budget Girlfight to 
Paramount's December 2005 tentpole 
release Aeon Flux. Her ambivalence about 
the experience ("I'm not sure studios are 
necessarily the most instructive places for 
filmmakers to be," she tells Horowitz) is a 
telling change of pace from the gung-ho 





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January-February 2006 I The Independent 29 





3rd ANNUAL TRENTON FILM FESTIVAL 


CALL FOR ENTRIES 

The Trenton Film Festival asks filmmakers from around the world to 
submit films for the 3 rd Annual Trenton Film Festival, May 5 - May 7, 
2006, in New Jersey's capital city Over ninety films were screened last 
year at our multi-venue, three-day event Win cash prizes and the 


Cateqories: 

♦ Narrative Feature 

♦ Narrative Short 

♦ Documentary Feature 

♦ Documentary Short 

♦ Foreign Feature 

♦ Foreign Short 

♦ Experimental 

♦ Animation 

♦ Family Short 


"Ernie" l-Beam trophy. Filmmakers can submit via Withoutabox or with 
a pdf submission form available at www.TRENTONFILMFESTIVAL.org. 

ALL ENTRIES MUST BE POSTMARKED BY FEBRUARY 1. 2006 


Submission Fees: S45 Feature; S35 Short: S25 Student Disc (w/ID) 

Submit Form & check to: 

Trenton Film Festival Submissions. PO Box 22430, Trenton, NJ 08607 

For info, visit www.TrentonFilmFestival.orq or call 609-396-6966 



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On location 
in New York 



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Documentary Media Studies, one year of full-time graduate study 
in the heart of New York City. The dynamic curriculum integrates 
the history of documentary filmmaking, the social and artistic 
implications of the form and the digital video techniques you'll 
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Now accepting applications for fall 2006. 



"An exciting and vibrant new program." 
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attitude of someone like Brett Ratner who 
comes across as the poster child for the 
modern studio filmmaker. 

As an interviewer, Horowitz peppers 
his subjects with genial questions that 
elicit entertaining, if not always insight- 
ful, responses. Each interview follows a 
similar format with the author first 
inquiring about the subject's childhood 
and early years before moving on to his or 
her experiences as a director. At the end of 
every chapter, the filmmakers answer an 
"Inside the Actors Studio"-like question- 
naire, which includes such brainteasers as 
"What is the first film you ever saw?" and 
"What's your favorite movie snack food?" 
Despite their vastly different back- 
grounds, these 20 individuals do, it turns 
out, share some things in common. For 
starters, most of them attended film 
school, if only in some cases for a few 
semesters. Names like Spielberg, Coppola 
and Zemeckis keep popping up as early 
influences. (Believe it or not, hipster 
favorite Michel Gondry cites Back to the 
Future as his favorite film of all time). 
Many also took strikingly similar paths on 
the road to directing their first feature. 
David Gordon Green, Joe Carnahan, and 
Kevin Smith all financed their debuts 
largely on their own dime, while Brett 
Ratner, McG, and F. Gary Gray used 
music videos as their calling card. Others 
like Dylan Kidd and Patty Jenkins 
worked on the fringes of the industry for 
years until they got the chance to direct. 
Even if you've heard their stories before, 
reading them again just reinforces the fact 
that in Hollywood there's no direct route 
into the director's chair. That's at once 
both depressing and exciting — depressing 
because the odds of success are astronom- 
ical, but exciting because you truly never 
know where the next great filmmaker is 
going to come from. 

Part of the fun of reading books like 
The Mind of the Modern Moviemaker is 
the promise of backstage gossip, but 
Horowitz doesn't push the directors to 
share secrets, and most of them are too 
professional (or, more likely, too worried 
about any possible repercussions) to say 
what really happened when the cameras 
weren't rolling. A few do speak candidly 
about their experiences in Hollywood. 
Doug Liman, for example, basically 



30 The Independent I January-February 2006 



accuses The Bourne Identity producer 
Frank Marshall of stealing the credit for 
that films success and later explains why 
he considers Mr. & Mrs. Smith to be "the 
most flawed of my movies." (Don't expect 
to learn any juicy gossip about 
Brangelina, though). Elsewhere, Kevin 
Smith remains his reliably sarcastic self, 
ripping on his pal Ben Affleck and the 
poor box office receipts of Mallrats and 
jersey Girl, while Dylan Kidd admits that 
he botched his follow-up to Roger Dodger 
with the poorly received P.S. And then 
there are the "South Park" boys Trey 
Parker and Matt Stone, who spend most 
of their interview complaining about how 
much they despise moviemaking. 
(Parker's answer to "Who is your favorite 
actor or actress of all time?" is "I hate 
them all.") As always with these two, you 
can never tell how much of their attitude 
is an act, but it's funny all the same. 

While all of the interviews are pleasant 
to read, they also feel somewhat superfi- 
cial. Horowitz provides you with a good 
sense of where these directors came from 
but not necessarily what makes them tick. 
In some cases, that's due to the subject's 
own guarded self-analysis, but other times 
the author simply declines to ask more 
probing follow-up questions. It would 
have been interesting to know, for exam- 
ple, why exactly Michel Gondry pays 
such close attention to reviews of his work 
or what impact Neil LaBute's conversion 
to Mormonism had on his writing. To his 
credit, Horowitz does try to get each of 
the directors to weigh in on at least one 
long-running argument, such as whether 
music videos can be a good training 
ground for feature filmmakers (Kusama 
says no; McG says yes) or if art and com- 
merce can co-exist in a big-budget block- 
buster. This line of questioning yields 
some of the book's more intriguing 
responses; it's too bad Horowitz wasn't 
able to organize a roundtable discussion 
so the filmmakers could talk about these 
different topics in more detail. Ultimately, 
The Mind of the Modern Moviemaker pro- 
vides you with a broad overview of 20 
directors currently working in 
Hollywood, but if you really want to learn 
more about them, you'll have to watch 
their movies. And maybe that's the way it 
should be. "& 



EARIY: JANUARY*9TZ066 
L FINAL: MARCH lj2006 



T— > T 



lk*zr 




••••••; 

mmm m » • • 

lis:*: 

SbjH -ANNUAL 

ANTELOPE VALLEY 






I 



ENTRIES 



INDEPENDENT 




FILM FESTIVAL 

AF>RRf2l;23S2006 





IVI^ITjIWWlAVffKCOMiFORlMOREIIWFO 



TALES 

FROM A 

SMALL 

ISLAND, 



11TH ANNUAL NANTUCKET FILM FESTIVAL 

June 14-18, 2006 



Call for Entries! 

Film and screenplay submission deadline 
March 1, 2006 



www.nantucketfilmfestival.org 
212-708-1278 




NANTUCKET 

FILM FESTIVAL 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 31 



THE SHORT 
STORY AT 
SUNDANCE 

Behind the scenes with 
the short film programmers 



BY NICK SCHAGER 



Watching 2,000 short films in four 
months isn't something you take on in 
your free time. It requires a finely honed 
system. For Roberta Munroe, one of the 
Sundance Film Festival's two short film 
programmers, that system resembles an assembly line of video 
playback equipment. Since 2001, Munroe has spent an enor- 
mous chunk of her time from August to November ensconced in 
her LA apartment, situated amidst a television on a wheeling 
cart, her DVD-enabled laptop, two DVD players (one all- 
region, one region 1), and two VCRs (one PAL, one NTSC). 



She fills each machine with a different festival submission, 
watches one after the other, and then repeats the process, sifting 
through thousands of diverse films in an effort to prepare for 
Sundance's showcase of domestic and international shorts. Some 
days, this routine might last only six hours, other days — espe- 
cially during the deadline-looming month of November — it can 
go on for 14 or more hours. It's not an exaggeration to say that, 
along with fellow programmer Mike Plante, Munroe likely 
watches as many (if not more) short films in a given year than 
anyone else in the world. 

Perhaps no film festival outside of France's esteemed 



32 The Independent I January-February 2006 




Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival lavishes as much attention 
and holds such a lofty industry position as Sundance's annual 
Short Film Festival. Launched in 1982 as a component of the 
United States Film and Video Festival (which would merge in 
1985 with Robert Redford's Sundance Institute to become the 
Sundance Film Festival), the program started as a peripheral part 
of the overall festival but has nevertheless, over the past two 
decades, become one of the premier destinations for short films. 
Expanded to include international films, the festival has award- 
ed two jury prizes since 2004 (for best American and interna- 
tional shorts), both of which are chosen from the 4,000-plus 
submissions sent to Sundance — and, specifically, to Munroe and 
Plante — each year from around the globe (roughly 25 percent 
come from locales outside the US). To put into perspective the 
phenomenal growth of the short film festival, submission num- 
bers were closer to 2,000 per year as recently as 200 1 . 

With regards to their moviewatching careers, Munroe often 
tells Plante, "I think that we're kind of insane," a sentiment that 




Top: The Egyptian Theater at Sundance; bottom: Park City, Utah 
[photos by Fred Hayes/Wireimage] 



world thinks that they'd shoot themselves in the head if they had 
to watch 2,000 short films." Though she admits that slogging 



most people who hear about their colossal workload generally through such an overwhelming number of films can be daunting 
concur with. "Anybody we talk to outside of the programming and, at times, exhausting, Munroe views her job not as a chore 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 33 



but as a rare opportunity to introduce exciting films and film- 
makers to the world that, without a place like Sundance, might 
never receive such a chance. "What really drives me is the hope 
that the next film I watch is going to be a really good film and 
that we're going to have another film to show up in Park City the 
likes of which has never been seen before," she says. 

Such optimism is the guiding force for both Munroe and 
Plante, who forged separate (but similar) paths to Sundance after 
years of filmmaking and festival work. A Toronto native with a 
lifelong passion for film ("It's sort of a cliche, but film is just one 
of my greatest loves," she says), Munroe started her festival career 
in the early '90s as co-director of the Inside/Out Lesbian & Gay 
Film Festival in Toronto. From there, she moved on to the 
Toronto International Film Festival and, in 1999 and 2000, 
worked as the administrative manager of the New York Film 
Festival and as a programmer of New York's IFP Market. Offered 
a festival manager post at Outfest Los Angeles Lesbian Gay Film 
Festival in 2001, the self-described "East Coast girl" packed her 
bags for what she believed would be a six-month stint in sunny 
California. But shortly after Outfest finished, Munroe, Los 
Angeles' who was also working on a variety of filmmaking proj- 
ects, heard that Sundance senior programmer Trevor Groth was 
looking for someone to help out with the festival's short films. 
One interview later, the post was hers. 

And during her first year, it was all hers. "I literally did every- 
thing all by myself," she says, recalling her inaugural festival. 
However, with submissions increasing a whopping 50 percent 
between the 2001 and 2002 festivals and Munroe admitting 
that, "I already sort of had tears of blood coming out of my eyes 
the first year," it became clear that it was impossible for one per- 
son to handle the avalanche of shorts arriving on Sundance's 
doorstep. Enter Plante. An aspiring filmmaker who'd cut his 
teeth working as a projectionist in Tucson, Plante found his way 
to Sundance after a gig at the Telluride Film Festival led him to 
Chapin Cutler, the technical director of both Sundance and 
Telluride. Cutler was looking for someone to work as the pres- 
entation manager — in essence, a "quality control of projection" 
job — at the Park City-based festival. Hired for the post, Plante 
spent his first year troubleshooting technical problems at the fes- 
tival, acting as "the buffer between filmmaker and projectionist." 
After helping program the 2002 CineVegas Film Festival with 
Groth, he was hired the following year to be Munroe's short film 
programming partner. 

Like Munroe, Plante started off as a budding filmmaker with 
a passion for the medium. "I always liked the idea of film festi- 
vals being this great [venue for] exposure," he says, especially 
"since movie theaters have really sort of gone away besides those 
in mass malls and the arthouses in big cities." His reasons for 
finding employment in the festival world, however, weren't com- 
pletely driven by a love of the cinema. "I needed a job," he con- 
cedes with a chuckle. Upon joining Sundance, he was surprised 
to find an environment that confounded his expectations. "I 



anticipated everybody would be on power trips. . .but it was the 
exact opposite. Everybody was really cool and down to earth, 
and everybody knew a lot about film — not just film history, but 
what was going on today, what was going on in other countries, 
what was going on in the art film world. It was completely eye- 
opening." 

Programming together lor the past three years, Munroe says 
that she and Plante consider themselves "essentially married" 
during the programming process, "even though I'm a lesbian 
and he has a girlfriend!" Nonetheless, the duo doesn't sort 
through the pile of submissions all by themselves. A group of 
"consultants" (who are not official Sundance employees), are the 
first group of people to view the submissions, with each con- 
sultant watching and taking notes (called "coverage") on any- 
where from 100 to 700 tapes. Thus, each film has already been 
watched in its entirety and commented on critically before it's 
viewed by one of the two programmers. "Then, if one of us 
thinks it's even remotely worth showing, we'll give it to the 
other person," Plante explains. Once Plante and Munroe make 
it through their respective share of submissions, the two whittle 
the group down to around 200-250 films, which are then hand- 
ed off to Groth — who, besides working as a feature film pro- 
grammer, also collaborates with the two-person programming 
committee. From that group, the three debate and argue, and 
ultimately make a decision on which 80-90 films will be entered 
into competition. 

With the exception of 20-25 films that annually screen in 
front of features, shorts are presented in one of eight programs: 
five for narrative films, one for documentaries, one for anima- 
tion, and one (the "Frontier" program) for avant-garde and 
experimental works. Shorts are generally defined as films run- 
ning under 50 minutes (for documentaries) and under 70 min- 
utes (for features). However, as both programmers are quick to 
note, the majority of shorts that are selected for Sundance run 
15 minutes or less. "Usually less," Plante says. And unlike the 
feature festival, which often places a premium on high-profile 
premieres, no such demands are made of shorts — the only cri- 
teria for selection is quality. Given that submissions run the 
gamut in terms of production value and subject matter, the 
standards by which each short is judged are, as Plante admits, 
"pretty vague. Like a [feature-length] film, it's just got to work 
for itself." 

Though a seemingly daunting mission, both programmers 
admit that narrowing down submissions isn't as tough as it 
seems. "Most of them are just good films, and then there are the 
prize few that are just exceptional," says Munroe. "And often 
they're documentaries, because someone has gotten incredible 
access to an incredible subject, found an unbelievably talented 
editor, and made a beautiful documentary." Figuring out which 
films make the grade, however, is made easier by the fact that so 
many are wholly unoriginal. Nonfiction films regularly concen- 
trate on current events for their stories — the past few years' hot 



34 The Independent I January-February 2006 




"What really drives me is the hope 
that the next film I watch is going to 
be a really good film and that we're 
going to have another film to show up 
in Park City the likes of which has 
never been seen before." 

— Roberta Monroe 



Shorts programmers Roberta Monroe and Mike Plante 



topic being soldier stories involving GIs recently home from 
Iraq — and Munroe says that these shorts usually provide nothing 
that hasn't already been seen ad nauseam on the national news. 
When it comes to fiction shorts, Munroe cites cliches and direc- 
torial plagiarism as the most frequent shortcomings, with rip-offs 
of current movies and popular directors (Wong Kar Wai and Wes 
Anderson are the most popular source material for current short 
filmmakers) a familiar attribute of submissions. 

But even more so than those problems, Munroe says that 
short filmmakers' most consistent failing is their lack of knowl- 
edge about what other types of films are being produced. "You 
need to be out there seeing what other people are making," so as 
to avoid producing stuff that's already been done, she urges. And, 
if you're interested in actually being accepted by a festival, "you 
need to go on websites to find out what other festivals are pro- 
gramming." Learning what types of shorts are being accepted 
into festival competitions is, she says, a shrewd means of devel- 
oping a project. "Nobody cares about you and your buddies on 
a road trip to Vegas where you meet the Devil and have to make 
a decision between your soul and the million dollars on the 
table," says Munroe, referencing a variation on one of many sto- 
ries seen by the programmers each year. "It's like [a shot of some- 
one] drinking straight from a Jack Daniels bottle. Whoa! I 
haven't seen that in, like, 15 minutes." 

Such shortcomings have become more glaring, in part, 
because of the sheer volume of shorts now inundating Sundance. 
Yet even though they wish it were the case, neither Munroe nor 
Plante believes that the escalating number of annual submissions 
means that short filmmaking has become more popular; rather, 
both attribute the situation to budding auteurs' increased access 
to relatively low-cost, high-tech filmmaking tools. With every 
wannabe Scorsese able to make a short film with an off-the-shelf 
digital video camera, Final Cut Pro on their iMac, and many 
actors willing to work for peanuts, anybody who ever dreamed 
of making a film now can (and does). The result of this boom is 
that, "the quality of production has gotten better," says Plante. 
"People have gotten smarter about shooting, smarter about 
sound. But it still comes down to the level of writing and edit- 



ing — that's what always seems to make the difference. That has 
not gotten better. Which makes sense, because some people are 
writers and editors, and some people are not." 

Once their programming duties are done, Munroe and 
Plante have nothing to do with choosing the competition's 
winners and losers. Yet both are encouraged by the fact that 
shorts now experience an elongated lifespan after the festival is 
over. Most shorts still function as calling cards for future work; 
Munroe says that she thinks, "the number one thing short film- 
makers are looking for at Sundance is finding an agent or man- 
ager." And the Sundance Online Film Festival — begun in 2001 
as a means of nurturing web-only productions — increasingly 
prolongs the life of these works (and helps them get seen by a 
wider audience) by providing directors with the option of 
offering their films, for free and with reasonably high video 
quality, on the Web. While roughly half of the filmmakers 
chose not to participate in the Online Festival in 2005 (likely 
for reasons involving the web's technical limitations and their 
own desire to make money off of their movies), the added 
exposure for films via this online outlet can — along with the 
networking opportunities afforded by Sundance — greatly aid 
filmmakers in furthering their careers. 

Ultimately, Munroe and Plante agree that their prime man- 
date is to help shine a spotlight on up-and-coming artists, and 
they handle each submission with the same attention and care 
that, were the roles reversed, they'd want their own films to 
receive. "You try to strike a nice balance between helping peo- 
ple out that are going to do something and showing shorts that 
will never have a life any other way, which is especially true of 
the avant-garde stuff," says Plante. Because, as filmmakers, they 
know, "what it's like to tough it out [making a movie] with $43 
worth of Kraft service and all your friends working for free." 
Munroe believes one of her chief duties is to give each and 
every film she watches considerable attention, care, and 
respect. "This is someone's vision that I'm about to put into my 
DVD player, and hopefully I'm going to see that it was real- 
ized," she says. "That's an important thing, and as much as we 
joke about it, we take [that responsibility] very seriously." 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 35 



WITNESS to 

Peter Gabriels organization harnesses the power of 

putting human rights coverage on film 




BY ELIZABETH ANGELL 



"lystem Failure: Violence, Abuse and Neglect in the 
California Youth Authority has all the elements 
you've come to expect from an earnest, well-inten- 
tioned documentary. There are heartrending 
interviews with young people who have been 
incarcerated in California's juvenile prisons, their parents, and 
the advocates who work with them. These interviews are well lit 
and seamlessly edited. There is archival footage of the state leg- 
islature, and clips from local news reports on a savage 2001 
beating of several "wards" (as the young inmates are known) at 
the hands of guards. There is b-roll footage taken inside the 
prison and at reformers' rallies and demonstrations. There is an 
opening sequence and a score, chapter headings and even a 
proper credit sequence. 

System Failure, however, is not really a documentary — it was 
not made by filmmakers who recorded hundreds of hours of 
footage and then painstakingly assembled a finished product 
based on their observations. The 31 -minute movie never did the 
rounds at festivals or crossed the transom at PBS or HBO or any 
of the other popular outlets for nonfiction film. It doesn't have 
a theatrical distribution deal. The video was made by Books Not 
Bars, an advocacy group that works to reform the California 
Youth Authority (CYA), in partnership with WITNESS, a 
Brooklyn-based organization dedicated to arming human rights 
activists with the tools they need to make targeted, savvy media 
about their causes. 

WITNESS does not mind if this distinction is lost upon 
viewers; in many ways it is probably good if System Failures 
audience does not feel as if it is watching a tiresome and pedan- 
tic piece of propaganda, but is instead caught up in the story 
and persuaded by the film's imagery. But as it has with every one 
of its partners, WITNESS set out to help Books Not Bars make 
a film that would have a very specific aim — in this case to aid in 
the CYA reform effort. "We stress that you are not making a 
video about an issue, but rather for a purpose, for an audience," 
says Sam Gregory, WITNESS' program manager. "You want to 
persuade and shame and move that audience." 

The power of video is undeniable. What one person might 
report — or even what a newspaper might explicate — pales in 



H1IIUU.IIF 

HO " 




comparison to the persuasive power of an image. Decision-mak- 
ers and even ordinary citizens often feel they must act once they 
have seen footage of a disaster or a crime. "Powerful images 
become a source of energy for social change," says Andrew Blau, 
a media analyst and a member of the WITNESS board. "Once 
you have seen it, the burden is on you to do something about it." 

For its part, Books Not Bars has found its partnership with 
WITNESS enormously effective. "We wanted decision makers 
to really understand what it would be like to be in the CYA and 
how they could reform the system," says Books Not Bars 
Executive Director Lenore Anderson. "We wanted them to do 
more than just paint the windows a new color and hire a nicer 
staff person." Since mounting a campaign to distribute the film 
to judges, public defenders, district attorneys, and members of 
the California government, the CYA population has dropped 
from 5,000 to just 2,300. "The judges who sentence kids 
understand these issues better, as well as probation officers, and 
people who make policy. This film has turned people's hearts 
around and given them a real sense of what it means to send 
young people to one of these facilities," says Anderson. 

WITNESS is the brainchild of the musician Peter Gabriel, 
who has long been interested in human rights issues and had 



36 The Independent I January-February 2006 



CHANGE 




CO 
GO 



< 



< 

:> 



been affiliated with Amnesty International and other organiza- 
tions over the years. He founded WITNESS in 1992, in the 
wake of the Rodney King beating. The now-iconic footage of 
that incident, in which an African-American motorist was 
severely beaten by Los Angeles police officers, sparked a nation- 
al — even international — debate about the appropriate use of 
amateur video footage. The men who beat King were eventual- 
ly acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing, a verdict that sparked 
devastating riots, but regardless of what you thought of the guilt 



or innocence of those police officers or of Rodney King himself, 
the power of that grainy footage was undeniable. "People under- 
stood that if you saw something that was normally hidden, you 
could change the public discourse," says Blau. "Once you 
change what can be seen, you change our ability to do some- 
thing about it." 

An average citizen, equipped with a hand-held video camera 
of the type used to film children's soccer games and family get- 
togethers, had changed the way Americans view law enforce- 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 37 




merit and brought attention to the way minorities are treated by 
police. What was once the exclusive territory of journalists and 
professional filmmakers had been opened up to anyone with 
access to a camera. 

Gabriel recognized that human rights work would never be 
the same: Cheap and readily available technology meant that 
the victims of crimes, both here and abroad, could document 
their plight through compelling images. But the Rodney King 
footage also provided a cautionary tale. "Those images sparked 
a national conversation and real social protest, but there was no 
conviction, no lasting systematic change," says Blau. 

Gabriel hoped WITNESS would help filmmakers harness 
their images for a purpose and help them follow through on 
that aim. In 1992, he helped set up the organization under the 
auspices of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now 
Human Rights First), and WITNESS'S small staff went to work 
finding local activists with which they could work. WITNESS 
acquired hundreds of cameras and some editing equipment and 
set about making it available. 

It was a unique moment in the history of media. 
Inexpensive cameras could be had by the hundreds and used 
with little training or expertise; in contrast to film, video was 
cheap and easy to edit, which required a minimum of training 
and expertise. The Internet was just beginning to catch on 
with ordinary civilian users and, over the next decade, would 
explode as a platform for still and video images, and as a 
means to spread information and ideas. 

The WITNESS staff quickly realized that merely making 
cameras available was not enough. "In the beginning there was 
an emphasis on getting the camera out there, but that was never 
really the biggest added value," says Gillian Caldwell, WIT- 
NESS' executive director. "The biggest value was always the 
technical and tactical advice to help them develop a powerful 
visual vocabulary surrounding their issue." 

WITNESS began developing techniques that could be dis- 
tributed along with the equipment. "At the core of our work is 



the principal that you know your objective and goal for change 
and from there, you work out to the audience you need to reach 
and from there you move to the video," says Gregory. 

Before they could set about making a film, local organiza- 
tions needed to identify their audiences: Were they legislators or 
judges, journalists or townspeople isolated in the countryside? 
What did the film hope to accomplish? Was it designed to pro- 
mote a specific policy or referendum? Was it designed to edu- 
cate people about a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or 
expose an atrocity that had been suppressed? And how would 
the local organization get its footage: Would it interview people 
or attempt to film an incident? 

"Our distribution strategy is what we call tactical media," 
says Caldwell. "It's not a focus on maximizing the number of 
eyeballs or on getting a television broadcast or a big premier. It's 
very focused on what's the solution and who the media needs to 
get to in order to ensure that the solution is implemented." 

WITNESS wanted to ensure that its grantees understood the 
power of a film to persuade, took that power seriously and pro- 
tected themselves against any potential dangers. "We wanted peo- 
ple to use video in ways that are ethical and effective," says 
Gregory. "What does it mean to use somebody's voice? What does 
it mean to edit together two contrasting viewpoints? And what 
will it mean when your worst enemy can see you talking about 
human rights violations?" 

As it grew, WITNESS realized that in order to implement this 
strategy, it would need to work more closely with a smaller num- 
ber of organizations. Instead of scattershot grants, an intense part- 
nership program was put in place. Each partner was carefully cho- 
sen based on the strength of their work, the clarity of their mis- 
sion, and the possibility that a video would help accomplish their 
goals. In addition to granting permission to equipment and tech- 
nical training, a WITNESS staff member would travel to meet 
with a representative of the organization in their home country — 
from Colombia and the Congo, to Thailand and sights in the 
US — to help them flesh out their objectives. As filming is com- 



38 The Independent I January-February 2006 




Gillian Caldwell [photo by Joseph Moran] 



pleted, partners spend time in the WITNESS offices editing their 
video and further honing their strategy. 

These partnerships, says Caldwell, are a model for how 
Western organizations can interact with human rights activists 
who have close, personal ties to a crisis. Instead of a pedantic 
"you have the problem, we have the answer" methodology, 
Caldwell and her staff work to enable local people to help them- 
selves. "The underlying theory of [our work at WITNESS] is 
that change really depends on the strength and visibility of local 
human rights defenders," she says. "Western human rights 
organizations tend to focus on report writing and on identify- 
ing trends. And then they make recommendations. That role is 
important but we want to empower these groups to plot their 
own solution." 

"WITNESS gets that there are people struggling for genera- 
tions upon generations to change the conditions in which they 
live," says Anderson. "They get that people have been fighting 
for their human rights and that if an organization comes in and 
says 'we're going to do something,' that can be enormously 
damaging and unhelpful. What most people need are resources 
and tools, they don't need bosses." 

Thanks to its success — and to the galloping pace of digital 
advancement — WITNESS has flourished. When Caldwell 



joined the organization as executive director in 1998 (she had 
previously been a WITNESS partner herself; her three-year 
project produced a film that used hidden camera footage to 
record the trafficking of sex workers in the states of the former 
Soviet Union, and an extensive advocacy and international 
awareness campaign), she had a staff of one and a budget of 
around $100,000. Today, the organization is housed in two 
floors of an office building behind the Brooklyn Academy of 
Music, has a staff of 20, and an annual budget of $3 million. 

They have more than a dozen active partnerships at a time, 
plus many other smaller projects. They attracted the de rigueur 
attention of Angelina Jolie, who traveled with WITNESS 
staffers to Sierra Leone to observe the Truth and Reconciliation 
Commission, about which WITNESS produced a video for 
distribution throughout the countryside. And WITNESS has 
assembled what is perhaps the largest archive of footage about 
human rights abuses anywhere in the world. It is a grim but 
powerful repository, a memory bank for victims of atrocities 
who would otherwise be forgotten or ignored. 

As digital cameras and camera phones proliferate world- 
wide — and penetrate even the most remote areas — the WIT- 
NESS' mandate, and the services it provides to activists, 
promises to grow even more pressing. Last October, WIT- 
NESS also published a book, Video for Change: A Guide for 
Advocacy and Activism, which anyone can download for free 
off the WITNESS website. Gregory and Caldwell hope it will 
be an invaluable tool for human rights advocates who cannot 
be WITNESS partners — or even for ordinary filmmakers 
interested in making targeted films. 

Documentary filmmakers will no doubt want to distinguish 
their work from WITNESS projects. After all, many self-styled 
storytellers value the investigative process in which a WITNESS 
film must by nature eschew as extraneous to a specific strategy. 
But Caldwell thinks the WITNESS method could benefit ordi- 
nary filmmakers tremendously. "What often happens in video 
and documentary filmmaking is there is so little funding and so 
few opportunities for distribution that people invest themselves 
heavily in making a movie and then run out of gas and time to 
invest when it comes to distribution," she says. "A more target- 
ed set of goals and a broader set of allies committed to distribu- 
tion could be hugely valuable to them." 

For her part, Books Not Bars' Anderson thinks that film- 
makers could learn an even more important lesson from WIT- 
NESS: "When I went to law school I remember that only one 
of my professors said anything about the responsibility of 
lawyers. He said, 'You're now being given a tool and that is 
power, and you can either use that to improve the world 
around you or to maintain the status quo. I think all skilled 
professionals are faced with that same choice. Filmmakers are 
a group of people with a tremendous amount of power and 
the ability to shape the world we live in. You can use that 
power to continue things the way they are or you can change 
the world." * 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 39 




Filmmakers find creative retreat at the 

New Hampshire artists' colony 



BY KATHERINE DYKSTRA 



Deep in the wooded region of Peterborough, 
New Hampshire exists a sprawling artists' 
enclave whose 32 studios rest in the shadow of 
the majestic Mount Monadnock. For nearly a 
century, the MacDowell Colony has been 
known for grooming celebrated writers such as James Baldwin, 
and Willa Cather, and artists like Milton Avery. More recently 
though, as its list of alumna starts to read more and more like a 
virtual who's who in contemporary independent film, it seems 
that MacDowell has deftly cultivated a reputation for having 
helped turn out filmmakers of a similar high profile variety. 

"Oh, Utopia," is how filmmaker Ira Sachs (Forty Shades of 
Blue; 2005) described it to his peer, Rodney Evans when Evans 
mentioned his recent stint at MacDowell. 

"That's always the response from everyone," explains Evans, 
whose well-received Brother to Brother won the Sundance 
Special Jury Prize in 2004, and who has taken two separate 
sojourns to New Hampshire, his most recent in the summer of 
2005. "[MacDowell] really goes above and beyond most of the 
other colonies in terms of protecting you from outside distrac- 
tions. They do everything they can to help you focus on your 
work." 



Sachs and Evans are far from alone in their sentiments. It 
seems that there are artists' colonies — more than 250 in the 
United States and many more worldwide — and then there is 
MacDowell, the relative gold standard when it comes to quiet 
time away for letting creativity flow. 

"The field is diverse ... It does not believe in the one size fits 
all approach," says Deborah Obalil, the executive director the 
Alliance of Artists Communities, a national service organization 
for the field of artists' communities, that serves as an informal 
hub lor those who run them and artists who are searching for 
them. "No two artists create in the same way, so no two com- 
munities are created in the same way. But MacDowell is among 
the largest and the oldest and is, in many ways, held up as the 
model of what an artists' colony is." 

Days at MacDowell stretch out long and unburdened, free 
from the hassles of everyday life — there is no housework to be 
done (a housekeeping staff maintains resident rooms), no bills 
to pay (some residents even get a stipend to subsidize rent or lost 
wages during their stay), no one to call or email (the rooms are 
phone- and internet-free, though wireless connections are avail- 
able upon request), and no meals to prepare (breakfast and din- 
ner are served communally, lunch is dropped off on resident's 



40 The Independent I January-February 2006 




doorsteps in rhe signature MacDowell wicker basket). There is only the work. 

"MacDowell is a space to write," says filmmaker Joshua Marston, who revised the 
script for Maria Full of Grace (which earned its rising star an Oscar nomination in 
2004) during his first MacDowell residency four years ago, and recently completed 
his second stay there. "It's not a place to learn; it's not about studying. It's about the 
space and the support to do one's work." 

For every artist, but perhaps especially for independent filmmakers, whose materi- 
als go beyond pen and paper, this kind of support is invaluable. Exploring character 
and humanity in visual narrative and documentary form is challenging and important 
work. But as most filmmakers know, money is continually difficult to find, time ohen 
allusive, and the necessary support to complete a film often nonexistent. And that's 
where MacDowell comes in. 

Says Student Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Mitch McCabe {Highway 
403, Mile 39, This Corrosion), who plans on returning to MacDowell this spring for 
her third residency: "It is a great place to give people [whose] resources are a problem 
or anytime finances are a question, a place to concentrate, to do your craft." 

And support comes not just in the form of time and money, but also as friendship 
and camaraderie. Year after year the MacDowell community of artists grows, and 
although the emphasis is always on the work, community breakfasts and dinners give 
artists the inherent opportunity to learn from each other, grow artistically, and pro- 
vide mutual encouragement. 

"The dialog between artists is great, a lot of the other artists will ask you what 
you're working on and then will turn you on to something you didn't know about but 
will be advantageous to the screenplay," says Evans, noting in particular his provi- 
dential relationship with fellow colonist, Doug Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning 
playwright {I Am My Own Wife), who helped Evans to sort out the structure of a par- 
ticularly complicated screenplay. 

The general sorting out of ideas is a common obstacle for filmmakers, perhaps as 
much so as financial restraints. "MacDowell is an extraordinarily valuable resource 



Filmmakers at MacDowell (from top, 
clockwise): Joshua Marston [photo by 
Joanna Eldredge Morrissey]; David 
Petersen [photo by Joanna Eldredge 
Morrissey]; Rodney Evans [photo by 
Joanna Eldredge Morrissey]; Jenny 
Livingston [photo courtesy of Livingston]; 
Ira Sachs [photo courtesy of Sachs] 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 41 







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because independent filmmakers are constantly struggling, and 
part of that struggle is how to carve out the space and the time 
to work," says Marston. "Plus, by virtue of being independent, 
you're not being supported by studios or what have you, and 
MacDowell enables that support. It's just one more pillar of 
support for the filmmaking community." 

A pillar of support for the filmmaking community, and a 
feather in the cap for the individual filmmaker — having an 
artists' residency on your resume, especially one as well-respect- 
ed as MacDowell, lends a whole new shine to your career. Often 
a residency will extend to further opportunities. 

"[Residencies are] beneficial in terms of building a reputation 
as an emerging artist. It helps to have a residency at MacDowell 
or Yaddo on your resume for grant applications, and to get into 
other residency programs, there is respect for the programs and 
the people who go there," says Evans, citing Yaddo, another of 
the few US residencies in league with MacDowell. 

Although filmmaking at MacDowell has a long history, it 
wasn't until the mid-'70s that the colony began accepting film- 
makers as filmmakers. This is not to say that filmmakers didn't 
attend. They did, but only by restructuring their work to meet 
the confines of conventional genres; fiction, poetry, composing, 
etc — screenwriters applied just as writers, film score composers 
as composers. As Obalil puts it: "Artists are very good at cre- 
atively fitting in different boxes." 

When the board at MacDowell realized how many filmmak- 
ers were producing work while in residency, work that was end- 
ing up in movie theaters, they alighted on the notion to create 
a category specifically for filmmakers. 

"MacDowell's whole philosophy was based on the fact that all 



the arts have something to say to one another," says Cheryl 
Young, MacDowell's executive director. "That model means 
that you would always include new genres and disciplines. 
When we looked at the writers whose work resulted in pro- 
duced films, we found 63 filmmakers from 1907 to the mid- 
1980s. 

"The first female president of the colony," Young continues, 
"Elodie Osborn, really worked to separate film out from the 
other disciplines, establishing a film panel, working on a selec- 
tion process and doing the outreach we were doing with other 
disciplines." Today, a film fellowship exists in Osborn's name. 

In the quarter century since the official film program was 
instituted, applications for filmmaking residencies have steadi- 
ly gone up in number. The last decade saw a 50 percent 
increase in filmmakers applying to MacDowell, with those 
accepted up from six in 1996 to 21 in 2005. 

"When I was there in 2003 — I was there for six to seven 
weeks — there were no other filmmakers the entire time I was 
there," says McCabe. "But when I went back in 2004, Rodney 
[Evans] had just left, and there were actually two or three oth- 
ers there." 

And now, as one of only a small number of artists' colonies 
that cater to filmmakers — Obalil estimates that 20 percent of 
American residency programs have separate genres for film- 
makers and that out of those, MacDowell is one of the only 
ones that exists outside an urban setting — MacDowell is doing 
what it can to keep the doors open to filmmakers who have 
previously attended, and to encourage those who have neither 
attended nor applied, to do so. 

It's not altogether surprising that very few filmmakers know 



42 The Independent I January-February 2006 



that places such as MacDowell exist — Evans calls it, "Americas 
best kept secret for artists." But the reasons are varied — from a 
lack of outreach, to the fact that today's filmmakers are just part 
of a different generation and cultural vernacular. 

"I don't think people are talking about it, even in the film 
schools. The faculty are old, so you don't have generations of 
people who've gone through residency programs," Young says. 
"But the next generation will tell their students that they had 
this experience when they were starting out." 

And then there's also the elitism factor. As Evans diplomati- 
cally points out, residency programs are, "a very specific cir- 
cuit — they don't go out of their way to publicize themselves. If 
you're in that world, and you're trying to make work, then you 
will have had access to these communities or done research to 
find out about them." 

It's true that artist residency programs often suggest a certain 
level of insider preciousness. And if it sounds a little cliquey, it 
is. Artists who are hip to residencies knew a good thing when 
they found it. But that doesn't mean residencies will forever be 
off-limits to a self-taught filmmaker from Duluth. 

"Places like MacDowell have always been known by a certain 
artist audience," says Obalil, "which is usually the least likely 
[community] to spread the word, because the more artists know 
the harder to get a residency, for that reason some programs 
don't allow repeat residencies, they spread the support around." 

For its part, MacDowell does allow artists to attend residen- 



cies (which run up to eight-weeks) as many times as they are 
accepted. Although one could argue that given the number of 
repeat residencies, once you're in, you're in. 

When it comes to art in the US, there is and probably always 
will be a primary focus on product, outcome, and commerce — 
film festivals, art exhibits, readings at bookstores — with less to 
little focus on the actual creation of that product. And that's 
what's admirable about artist residency programs. There's an 
undeniable mandate of artistic integrity within their mission. 

"The concept of the residency program is not as widely 
known as it could be, that's the nature of everything that sup- 
ports art behind the scenes," says Obalil. 

Last summer, MacDowell put up a 32-person film studio 
with an editing room, as yet to be properly dedicated — "We're 
looking for someone to put their name on it," says Young — and 
for years, the colony has had its own steamvac (filmmakers who 
aren't into analog can bring their iMac with Final Cut Pro or 
what have you). Young hopes that these efforts will encourage 
more filmmaker applicants. "The film discipline needs to make 
itself heard so residency programs can help and adapt." 

After all, a lot of creativity can occur in the woods. "In the 
city there's a finite amount of time to get work done and jug- 
gling life issues and paying bills and going to social events," says 
Evans. "I don't give myself the luxury to experiment with radi- 
cal ideas. But radical things happen naturally in [residency] 
environments." Thoreau couldn't have said it better himself, ir 




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January-February 2006 ! The Independent 43 



POLICY 



Expanding Broadband 

The legislative battle continues 



By Matt Dunne 

As any politician will tell you, 
incumbency has ttemendous 
benefits. The same can be said 
for the competitive world of telecommu- 
nications. Existing telephone and cable 
companies have traditionally had the 
wires and other physical infrastructure in 
place to keep upstart providers out. This 
advantage has led to what is essentially a 
monopoly (albeit a regulated one) with 
significant control over the ways new 
communication technology, such as 
broadband, is distributed. 

Over the last decade, new technologies 
have offered competitive methods of 
delivering broadband — including over 
wireless (Wi-Fi) and existing power 
lines — without the need for massive 
infrastructure investment. Furthermore, 
municipalities who are tired of waiting 
for broadband to arrive have gone out on 
their own to negotiate deals with outside 
providers to blanket their cities with serv- 
ice. This service is much faster than what 
cable companies provide currently, and 




competitive rates would allow even low- 
income communities real access. At 
first, these municipalities were viewed as 
quixotic. However, once these entrepre- 
neurs and innovative politicians gained 
traction, the incumbents, threatened by 
this new competition, declared war. 

The importance of broadband is grow- 
ing every day. With the advent of 
Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP), new 
companies have sprung up to provide 
cheap telephone service over the internet. 
Cable companies now offer broadband 
data services, and traditional phone com- 
panies, who were the first to offer faster 
internet connections, are about to start 
delivering movies over their lines. With 
data, voice, and video converging onto a 
single platform, though, the capacity of 
the network to deliver these services at 
acceptable speeds becomes crucial to con- 
sumers and content providers. 

The film and video industry has a 



unique interest in the expansion of high- 
speed broadband. The ability to deliver 
streaming video directly to the home has 
the potential to drastically reduce the cost 
of distribution and make studio gate- 
keepers much less relevant. Filmmakers 
would be able to use innovative, grass- 
roots methods of distribution and actual- 
ly compete with traditional high-cost 
theater, cable, or television. The tech- 
nology to make this possible is already 
here. While the average American inter- 
net connection is 500 kilobits per second, 
much too slow for film distribution, 
Japan is already delivering 100 megabits 
per second to millions of people, ample 
speed with which to watch a film on the 
internet without ever having to down- 
load it onto your computer. 

Municipalities across the country have 
started to launch their own systems to 
deliver high-speed access to all of their 
constituents. Philadelphia has partnered 
with EarthLink to furnish the city with 
wireless broadband. Large cities like 



44 The Independent I January-February 2006 



Chicago and San Francisco are attempt- 
ing to follow suit, as are smaller commu- 
nities like Lafayette, LA, Madison, WI, 
and Burlington, VT. Big companies like 
Google have gotten into the delivery 
game, as have small innovative start-ups 
like Azulstar Networks and Cellnet. The 
projected cost to consumers is around 
half what residents pay for much slower 
delivery. 

The backlash from powerful incum- 
bents has been swift and brutal. In 
response to the Philadelphia partnership 
with EarthLink, telecom lobbyists in 
Pennsylvania pushed through a ban of 
any future municipal-supported sys- 
tems. According to an August 2005 
Governing magazine story, 14 states have 
introduced legislation to restrict or actu- 
ally ban new municipal broadband sys- 
tems, and a few, including Pennsylvania 
and Nebraska, have succeeded in passing 
such prohibitions. 

Incumbents make a variety of argu- 
ments in their case to crush further 
municipal deployment. The Heartland 
Institute, a conservative think tank that 
has taken the lead in opposing municipal 
broadband, warns that city governments 
are getting in over their heads by trying 
to run enterprises in a fast-paced business 
sector, and, in a series of reports, makes 
the case that the numbers projected in 
the government-backed proposals are too 
optimistic and would lead to significant 
tax liabilities down the road. Others says 
that it's unfair for government to com- 
pete with private industry. 

In a CNET News.com story last May, 
BellSouth spokesman Joe Chandler 
argued that his industry simply wants to 
ensure "fair" competition which he 
believes would include bans on tax subsi- 
dies for municipal start-ups, equal tax lia- 
bilities for for-profit carriers, and even 
requirements that the public vote on new 
proposals. In the same article, Matthew 
Spitzer, dean of the University of 
Southern California Law School, suggests 
there are further dangers, stating that, 
"Once a city gets into a business that's 
directly competitive with private compa- 
nies, there are temptations to regulate the 
private companies in ways that disadvan- 
tage them." 

This political battle, however, is not 



the typical cut-and-dry fight between 
public interest lefties and big industry, 
or even between Republicans and 
Democrats. Technology corporate 
giants including Intel, Google, and 
Microsoft have all weighed in in support 
of broadband through wireless and 
municipal systems. Fortune magazine 
columnist David Kirkpatrick made the 
case last October that universal high- 
speed broadband would add $500 bil- 
lion to the US gross domestic product, 
due to greater efficiencies and new tech- 
nologies allowed by enhanced commu- 
nications super highways. Municipal 
broadband has also gained passionate 
backing from Republican defenders of 
market competition including Senator 
John McCain (R-Arizona) and 
Congressman Chris Cannon (R-Utah), 
who argue that municipal broadband 
will increase economic development 
and wealth. 

Despite the wholehearted support of 
these unusual bedfellows, state legisla- 
tures continue to pass prohibitions of 
municipal systems. The local telecoms 
are very powerful forces in the individ- 
ual state capitals, much more so than 
larger out-of-state technology corpora- 
tions. At the federal level, where Intel 
and Google would have more influence, 
Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-New 
Jersey) and McCain have introduced a 
bill to preempt state efforts to ban 
municipal networks. However, the 2004 
Supreme Court ruling in Nixon v. 
Missouri Municipal League, which 
upheld state prohibitions as legal, is 
expected to be cited as a precedent that 
such laws are a matter of state's rights. 

As a result, for those who believe an 
expansion of municipal broadband is 
important, the fight must be taken to 
the state level and soon. Many of the 
remaining 35 states that have not yet 
weighed in on the issue have bills pend- 
ing for the upcoming legislative year. 
The Benton Foundation has some excel- 
lent online resources for heading up 
your own advocacy efforts. This would 
be an excellent time for the progressive 
film community to band together with 
the emerging new economy technology 
innovators to ensure that high-speed 
broadband becomes ubiquitous. *k 




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January-February 2006 I The Independent 45 



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By Katie Ainslie 



ARIZONA INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, April 20-30, 
AZ. Deadline: Feb. 10. Festival's mission is to 
showcase independent work (preferably not 
in distribution) from around the world to 
Arizona audiences. Works participate in "The 
Reel Frontier" Film & Video Competition or 
are invited to non-competitive programs. 
Founded: 1990. Cats: experimental, feature, 
doc, short, animation. Awards: Best of 
Category; Best of Arizona; "Bridging 
Cultures" Award; Best Chicano Film. 
Formats: 35mm, Beta SR MiniDV, DVcam, 
16mm. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $30 
(under 45 mm.); $50 (45 mm. & over). 
Contact: Guilio Scalinger; (520) 628-1737; 
reelfrontier@azmac.org; www.azmac.org/ 
festival/index2.html. 

ARTIVIST FILM FESTIVAL, July 26-30, CA 
Deadline: Nov. 15; Dec. 15; Jan. 15; Feb. 3 
(final). Seeks to strengthen the voice of int'l 
activist filmmakers & artists who wish to 
raise public awareness & funds for global 
social causes. Cats: doc, feature, experi- 
mental, animation, music video, musical, 
photographs, visual art, short. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, Beta SP DVD. VHS or DVD; 
CD or CD-ROM for photographs & visual art. 
Entry Fee: $30-$70. Contact: Festival; (310) 
712-1222; info@artivistfilmfestival.org; 
artivistfilmfestival.org. 

ARIZONA STATE ART MUSEUM SHORT FILM & 



VIDEO FESTIVAL, April 15, AZ. Deadline: Feb. 
10. The fest is a free one night outdoor fest. 
Entries should be no longer than 10-12 min. 
All entries become a part of the Museum's 
video library. Founded: 1997 Cats: short, 
experimental. Awards: Juror's Choice (2), 
LeBlanc Audience Choice & AZ award 
(Arizona artists only). Preview on VHS 
(NTSC). Entry Fee: None. Contact: John D. 
Spiak, Curatorial Museum Specialist; (480) 
965-2787; fax: (480) 965-5254; 
spiak@asu.edu; asuartmuseum.asu.edu 
/filmfest/. 

ATHENS INT'L FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL. April 
28-May 4, OH. Deadline: Jan. 30 . Annual 
fest celebrating independent, documentary 
& experimental works. Each entry is pre- 
screened by a committee of artists. Works 
w/ high regard for artistic innovation, sensi- 
tivity to content & personal involvement w/ 
the medium are welcomed. Cats: feature, 
doc, short, experimental, animation. Awards: 
Cash awards. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 1/2" 
Beta, Beta SP mmi-DV Preview on VHS 
(NTSC) or DVD. Entry Fee: $35, plus 
s.a.s.e./insurance. Contact: Ruth Bradley; 
(740) 593-1330; fax: 597-2560; 
bradley@ohiou.edu; www.athensfest.org. 

ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL, June 9-17, GA 
Deadline: Feb. 3. Features premiere screen- 
ings of independent film & video, informa- 



tive seminars, panel discussions & guest 
appearances by filmmakers, video artists, & 
media professionals from around the world. 
Award-winning short narrative/animation 
experimental works are eligible for 
Academy Award(s) Nomination. Founded: 
1977 Cats: any style or genre, feature, doc, 
short, animation, experimental, student, 
youth media. Awards: Over $100,000 in 
cash & in-kind prizes. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, 1/2", Beta, Beta SP Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $40 (individual/nonprofit); $30 
(IMAGE members/students); $50 
(distrib./for profit). Contact: Paul Marchant, 
Festival Director; (404) 352-4225; fax: 352- 
0173; aff@imagefv.org; www.atlantafilmfes 
tival.com. 

BARE BONES INT'L INDEPENDENT FILM 
FESTIVAL, April 17-13, OK. Deadlme:Jan.26 
(final). Projects budgeted for less than a mil- 
lion dollars are eligible to enter the fest. 
Seven days of screenings, workshops, 
screenplay readings, location tour, youth 
film projects. Cats: feature, doc, short, ani- 
mation, experimental, script, music video, 
student, youth media. Awards: Auteur of the 
Year; Audience Choice Award; Grand Jury 
Awards. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Most 
video formats. Entry Fee: $20-$50. Contact: 
Shiron Butterfly Ray; (918) 616-1335; bare 
bonesfilmfestival@yahoo.com; www.bare 
bonesfilmfestival.com. 



46 The Independent I January-February 2006 



BIG ISLAND FILM FESTIVAL, May 18-21, HI 
Deadline: Feb. 1; March 1 (final). Fest's mis- 
sion is to "celebrate independent narrative 
filmmakers & independent narrative films." 
Films must be narrative films completed 
after Jan. 1 of previous yr. & w/out commer- 
cial exhibition or distribution. Cats: feature, 
short, animation, family, student, surfing. 
Formats: DVD, Beta SP Preview on DVD or 
VHS. Entry Fee: shorts: $25,$30,$40; fea- 
tures: $25,$40,$50. Contact: Leo W. Sears, 
Exec Din; (808) 557-5200; entries@bigisland 
filmfestival.com; www.bigislandfilmfesti 
val.com. 

BROOKLYN INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, June 2-11, 
NY. Deadline: March 15 (Final). The Brooklyn 
Int'l Film Festival (BIFF), was established in 
1998 as the first int'l competitive film fest in 
New York. Since 2002, BIFF has been part- 
nering w/ the Brooklyn Museum. In the 
effort of consolidating its int'l presence, BIFF 
has been developing solid ties w/ major 
overseas film fests & distribution companies 
as well as successfully pursuing int'l spon- 
sorship. Founded: 1997 Cats: feature, doc, 
experimental, short, animation. Awards: 
Each yr. the festival awards a total of approx. 
US $50,000 in services & cash. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta SP DV, DVD, CD-ROM, 
DigiBeta, HD cam. Preview on DVD or VHS 
(non-returnable). Entry Fee: $30; $50 (final). 
Contact: Marco Ursino; (718) 388-4306; fax: 
599-5039; 2006@wbff.org; www.wbff.org. 

CRESTED BUTTE REEL FEST, August 9-13, CO 
Deadline: Feb. 15; March 31 (final). 
Competitive short film fest focusing on films 
under 40 mm. & documentary films under 
60 min. Founded: 1998. Cats: short, student, 
doc, animation, experimental. Awards: 
Juried film, & audience awards incl. Gold 
($500) & Silver $250) in each category. The 
BOB Award ($150) plus handcrafted award) 
rewards the entry that pushes the envelope 
the farthest. The Grand Prix Award ($500) is 
a pre-juned award given to the Best Film of 
the Festival, which can be from any of the 
four cats. Formats: 35mm, Beta, 16mm, 
3/4", 1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS (NTSC) or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $40; $50 (final). Contact: 
Eney Jones, Exec. Dm; (970) 349-2600; fax: 
349-1384; info@cbreelfest.com; www.crest 
edbuttereelfest.com. 



OR. Deadline: Jan. 15; Feb. 28; March 30. 
Fest is looking for original works not exceed- 
ing 30 min. in length (documentaries can 
only be a max of 50 min.) Submissions in 
three main cats: K-12, college & independ- 
ent. Founded: 1988. Cats: short, any style or 
genre. Awards: Awards given in each cate- 
gory. Formats: film, video, digital. Preview on 
VHS (NTSC only). Entry Fee: college/indie 
$20, $35, $50; K-12 $10, $15, $20. Contact: 
Sue Queisser; (541) 752-5584 / 757-6363; 
fax: (541) 754-7590; davincifilmfest 
©aol.com; www.davmcidays.org/filrmfesti- 
val. 

DANCES W/ FILMS, July 21-27 CA. Deadline: 
early: Jan 2nd; standard: Apr. 24; Late: May 
29. All films admitted for screening are 
selected using only one major criterion: they 
must have been completed w/out any 
known director, actors, producers, or 
monies from known sources (e.g., known 
production companies). Films must have 
been completed by Jan. 1 of previous year. 
Founded: 1998. Cats: family, youth media, 
feature, doc, short, animation, experimental. 
Awards: Best of (feature, short); Best 
Screenplay (feature, short); Audience Award 
(feature, short). Formats: Beta SR 16mm, 
35mm, DV, HD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
early deadline $50 feature/$35 short; stan- 
dard deadline $60 feature/$40 short; late 
deadline 75 both. Contact: Leslee Scallon; 
(323) 850-2929; fax: 850-2928; 
info@dancesw/f ilms.com; www. Dances 
WithFilms.com. 

THE DELTA INT'L FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, April 
21-22. Deadline: March I.The Delta Int'l Film 
& Video Festival is devoted to showcasing 
the work of independent film & video mak- 
ers/artists. We are looking for work that 
exhibits exceptional artistry, insight, & inno- 
vation in all cats & genres. Held at Delta 
State University in Cleveland, MS, the DIFVF 
unspools in the heart of the Mississippi 
Delta~a unique, thriving, culturally rich & 
diverse region of the US. Founded: 2005. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, experimental, ani- 
mation, student. Formats: 16mm, DVD, DV. 
VHS (NTSC). Entry Fee: $25; $15 (students). 
Contact: Robyn Moore; (662) 846-4731; 
rmoore@deltastate.edu; www.art. deltas 
tate.edu. 



DA VINCI FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, July 14 16, DENVER PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL, April 



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24-30, CO. Deadline: January 31; late Feb 
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299-9064; palmwine21@hotmail.com; 
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DENVER PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL, April 
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15. Cats: feature, short, doc, experimental. 
Contact: Festival; 303-832-3190; fax: 303- 
299-9064; palmwine21@hotmail.com; 

www.panafncanarts.org. 

HARRY M. WARNER FESTIVAL OF SHORT FILM 
& VIDEO, April 20-21, PA. Deadline: Jan. 1; 
Feb. 1 (final). Fest takes place on the cam- 
pus of Slippery Rock University of 
Pennsylvania, seeking shorts (under 20 
mm.). Harry M. Warner, one of the Warner 
Bros., established the first Warner Movie 
Theater in New Castle, PA in 1907. Fest will 
also occur in conjunction w/ "Kaleidoscope," 
Slippery Rock University's Annual Arts 
Festival. Founded: 2005. Cats: any style or 
genre, doc, feature, experimental, anima- 
tion, short. Awards: Three renowned judges 
will determine the top three cash awards 
($1,500 first prize, $1,000 second prize, 
$750 third prize) plus honorable mentions.. 
Formats: Mini-DV, DVD. preview on VHS or 
mini-DV Entry Fee: $15; $35 (final). Contact: 
Jon Shumway; (724) 738-2714; fax: 738- 
4485; jon.shumway@sru.edu; http://aca 
demics.sru.edu/warner/entnes.html. 

HI MOM! FILM FESTIVAL, June 9-10, NC. 
Deadline: Jan. 1 (early); Mar. 1 (final). Festival 
is accepting short shorts & not-so-short 
shorts w/ deep thoughts & shallow pockets. 
Two glorious days, three hot nights, six flam- 
ing trophies! Cats: short, any style or genre. 
Awards: Cash & non-cash prizes awarded. 
Formats: DVD, Beta SR Hi8, CD-ROM, super 
8, 35mm, 16mm, 1/2',' Mini-DV. Preview on 
VHS (PAL or NTSC). Entry Fee: None (early); 
$15 (final). Contact: Matt Hedt; (919)967- 
4338; himomfilmfest@mindspnng.com; 
www.himomfilmfestival.org. 

HIGH-DEF FILM FESTIVAL, WORLD TOUR EVENT. 

Deadline: Feb. 1. HDFEST is known as "the 
world's only high-definition film fest" due to 
the fact the fest showcases projects in HD 
which have been shot in HD format exclu- 
sively. HDFEST works to bring together film- 
makers & technological innovators from all 



over the world. Cats: feature, doc, short, ani- 
mation, experimental, TV, music video. 
Awards: World tour screening. Formats: 
DVD, VHS. Preview on DVD or VHS. Entry 
Fee: $40 (under 40 mm); $50 (others). 
Contact: Hdfest Productions; admin 
©hdfest.com; www.hdfest.com. 

HUMBOLDT INT'L SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, April 
1- 8, CA. Deadline: Jan. 27; Feb. 17 (final). 
The 39th Humboldt Int'l Short Film Festival 
is the oldest continuous student-run fest in 
the world. Since its inception in 1967 the 
Fest continues to support & celebrate film- 
makers working in experimental & non-tradi- 
tional ways. Films must be under 45 mm. in 
length & completed in the last three years. 
Founded: 1967 Cats: narrative, experimen- 
tal, animation, doc, & the "you call it" cate- 
gory, short, any style or genre. Awards: 
More than $3,000 in cash & prizes. Formats: 
16mm, Digital Video. Preview on VHS/DVD. 
Entry Fee: $10 (under 9 mm.); $20 (10-29 
mm.); $30 (30-60 mm); $10 additional for Int'l 
entries . Contact: Ivy Matheny; (707) 826- 
4113; fax: 826-4112; filmfest@hum 
boldt.edu; www.humboldt.edu/~filmfest. 

IOWA CITY INT'L DOC FESTIVAL, Apr 11-15, IA 
Deadline: Dec. 1 ; Jan 16; final Feb 1. A com- 
petitive fest showcasing short documen- 
taries. Length of entries is limited to 30 
mm.. Festival seeks short documentaries of 
30 min or less. The definition of a "docu- 
mentary" is open to wide interpretation 
Founded: 2002. Cats: doc, short. Awards: 
Cash prizes. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, video. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $25; $30 (final). 
Contact: T. Seeberger; (319) 335-3258; 
mfo@ICDocs.org; www.icdocs.org. 

INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL OF BOSTON, 

April 19-24, MA. Deadline: Feb. 10. Fest was 
created to discover unknown filmmakers, 
incl. students, first-timers, & int'l directors. 
Festival specializes in films still seeking dis- 
tribution. IFFBoston has awarded over 
$20,000 worth of prizes to winning films dur- 
ing previous fests, incl. professional servic- 
es, software packages, & film gear. Cats: 
feature, doc, short, animation, experimental, 
New England Focus, any style or genre. 
Awards: Best Fiction Feature & Short, Best 
Doc Feature & Short, Festival Filmmaker, & 
Audience Choice. Formats: 35mm, Beta SR 
dv-cam. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 



48 The Independent I January-February 2006 



$10-$45. Contact: Festival; (857) 891-8693; 
info@iffboston.org; www.iffboston.org. 

IIMT'L WILDLIFE FILM FESTIVAL, May 13-20, 
MI Deadline: Feb. 10. The central focus of 
fest is to bring awareness to non-domesti- 
cated wildlife species & natural habitats. 
Cats: children, doc, feature, TV, music video, 
news story. Formats: Beta SR DigiBeta. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $25- 
$200. Contact: IWFF; (406)728-9380; 
fax: 728-2881; iwff@wildlifefilms.org; 
www.wildlifefilms.org. 

LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL, June 16 26, CA. 

Deadline: Jan. 14; Feb. 18 (final: shorts, 
music video); March 1 (final: features). Fest 
showcases the best of American & int'l inde- 
pendent cinema. The fest screens over 80 
features & 60 shorts. Fest is widely recog- 
nized as a world-class event, uniting emerg- 
ing filmmakers w/ critics, scholars, film mas- 
ters, & the movie-loving public. Founded: 
1995. Cats: Feature, Doc, Short, Animation, 
Music Video, Student. Awards: Narrative 
Competition receives a $50,000 cash grant, 
Doc Competition winner receives a $25,000 
cash grant, both funded by Target Stores. 
Formats: 16mm, 35mm, DigiBeta, HD. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $50/$65 
(features); $35/$45 (shorts); $20/$30 (music 
videos). Contact: Varky James; (310) 
432-1208; lafilmfest@ifp.org; www.lafilm 
fest.com. 

LOWER WEST SIDE FILM FESTIVAL, April 22 27 
NY. Deadline: Feb. 15; March 10 (final). An 
alternative exhibition opportunity for emerg- 
ing film artists & multimedia artists. The 
Festival will feature a minimum of eight 
screenings showcasing more than 50 
alternative filmmakers at Collective: 
Unconscious & other venues in Lower 
Manhattan. Works 30 mm. or under. Cats: 
doc, short, animation, experimental, any 
style or genre. Formats: 1/2", DVD, Mini-DV, 
16mm, Super 8. preview VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $25; $35 (final). Contact: 
Collective: Unconscious; lwsff@weird.org; 
www.weird.org/LWSFF 

MARYLAND FILM FESTIVAL, May 11-14, MD 
Deadline: Feb. 17 MFF will bring a wildly 
entertaining mix of films from all over the 
world. Fest incls. "The Guest Host 
Program", "Advocating for Movies", "Film 



Preservation", film screenings, & panel dis- 
cussions. Fest strives to have an "experience 
that is fun-celebrating the whole film cul- 
ture, w/ no distinction between types of 
films. ..a great movie is a great movie." Cats: 
feature, short, doc, experimental, animation, 
open category. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $10-$50. Contact: MFF; (410) 
752-8083; fax: (410) 752-8273; info® 
mdfilmfest.com; mdfilmfest@pcbank.net; 
www.mdfilmfest.com. 

MEDIA THAT MATTERS FILM FESTIVAL, On 

going, NY. Deadline: Jan. 6. Seeking films on 
Food Politics, Criminal Justice, Elections, 
LGBT Rights, Youth Activism, Health 
Advocacy, Racial Justice, Human Rights, 
HIV/AIDS & more Cats: any style or genre, 
short, doc, experimental, animation, music 
video, youth media, PSA, Interactive Online 
Project. Awards: Sixteen winners get an int'l 
distribution deal- DVD, broadcast, web 
streaming & hundreds of community 
screenings. Plus many films get cash 
awards. Formats: DVD, DigiBeta, Beta SP 8 
mm preview. Entry Fee: $20, Students no 
fee. Contact: Wendy Cohen; (646)230-6288; 
fax: 230-6328; wendy@artsengine.net; 
www.MediaThatMattersFest.org. 

METHOD FEST INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL, 

March 31-Apnl 7 CA. Deadline: Dec. 5; Jan 
26 (final). Named for the 'Stanislavski 
Method,' fest highlights the great perform- 
ances of independent film. Seeking story 
driven films w/ outstanding acting perform- 
ances. Founded: 1999. Cats: Feature, Short, 
student. Formats: 35mm, Beta SR DV, 
DigiBeta, DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
Student: $25; Shorts: $30, $40 (final); 
Features: $40 , $50 (final). Contact: c/o 
Franken Enterprises; (310) 535-9230; 
fax: 535-9128; Don@methodfest.com; 
www.methodfest.com. 

NEW DIRECTORS/NEW FILMS, March 22-Apnl 
2, NY. Deadline: Jan. 8. Highly regarded non- 
competitive series presented by Film 
Society of Lincoln Center & Museum of 
Modern Art. Fest presents average of 23 fea- 
tures & 15 shorts each yr. at MOM A. About 
900 entries submitted. No cats; all genres & 
lengths considered. Shorts presented w/ 
features. Fest is well publicized; all programs 
reviewed in New York Times & Village Voice. 
Entries must have been completed w/in pre- 




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vious yr & be NY premieres w/ no prior pub- 
lic exhibition. Founded: 1972. Cats: TV, fea- 
ture, doc, short, animation, experimental, 
student. Awards: None. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Digital Video. Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Sara 
Bensman, Film Coordinator; (212) 875-5638; 
fax: 875-5636; festival@filmlmc.com; 
www.filmlinc.com. 

NEWARK BLACK FILM FESTIVAL. June 28-Aug 
2 , NJ. Deadline: April 1 (Fest deadline); Feb. 
20 (Robeson Award, Juried Competition). 
This fest aims to provide a progressive pub- 
lic forum for hundreds of emerging writers, 
directors, producers, performers, & film 
buffs who enjoy African American & African 
Diaspora cinema. Screening in the summer 
months (Wed), the films shown reflect the 
full diversity of the black experience in 
America, both past & present. Each film 
selection encompasses a wide range of cin- 
ematic forms & formulas, from documen- 
tary to the avant-garde. Cats: Doc, 
Experimental, Animation, Feature. Awards: 
cash awards. Formats: 16mm, 3/4", 1/2". 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $35 (Robeson 
competiton) . Contact: Pat Faison; (973) 596- 
6493; fax: (973) 642-0459; pfaison 
©newarkmuseum.org; www.newarkmuse 
um.org/nbff/. 

NEWFEST: NEW YORK LESBIAN, GAY, 
BISEXUAL, & TRANSGENDER GAY FILM 
FESTIVAL, June 1-11, NY. Deadline: Dec. 23; 
Feb. 20 (final). This fest is committed to pre- 
senting diverse & culturally inclusive pro- 
grams, & showcases all genres of film & 
video in the interest of lesbians, gay men, 
bisexuals, or transgendered persons. 
Founded: 1989. Cats: feature, doc, experi- 
mental, short, . Awards: Jury awards for 
Best Narrative Feature, Best Feature Doc & 
Best Short, Audience Awards. Formats: 
35mm, Beta SP DVD, DigiBeta. Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $20; $25 (final). 
Contact: Basil Tsiokos; (212) 571-2170; 
fax: 571-2179; info@newfest.org; www.new 
fest.org. 

OUTFEST: THE LOS ANGELES GAY & LESBIAN 
FILM FESTIVAL, July 6-17 CA. Deadline: Jan. 
27 March 10 (final). The mission of Outfest is 
to "build bridges among audiences, film- 
makers & the entertainment industry 
through the exhibition of high-quality gay, 



lesbian, bisexual & transgender themed 
films & videos, highlighted by an annual fest, 
that enlighten, educate & entertain the 
diverse communities of Southern California'.' 
Fest also offers a weekly screening series yr. 
round, as well as a screenwntmg lab. Lab 
dates: July 12-14, Lab deadline: Jan. 26 
Founded: 1982. Cats: Feature, Doc, Short, 
Animation, Experimental, script. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta SP Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: Features (over 50 min.): 
$25, $35 (final); Shorts: $15, $25 (final); 
Screenwriting Lab $25 . Contact: Festival; 
(213)480-7088; fax: 480-7099; program 
ming@outfest.org; www.outfest.org. 

PALM BEACH INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, April 20-27 
FL. Deadline: Feb. 1. Festival showcases 
over 80 American & Int'l independent fea- 
tures, shorts & documentaries. Set in 
Florida's tropical playground, fest gatherings 
range from stimulating seminars to casual 
beach parties & a black tie affair hosting 
some of top names in the film industry. 
Founded: 1996. Cats: any style or genre, fea- 
ture, doc, short, experimental. Awards: 
Audience & Best of awards. Formats: 
35mm, Beta, Beta SP DigiBeta. Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $30-$70. Contact: 
Festival; (561) 362-0003; fax: 362-0035; 
info@pbifilmfest.org; www.pbifilmfest.org. 

PORTLAND DOC & EXPERIMENTAL FILM 
FESTIVAL, April 26-30, OR. Deadline: Dec. 16, 
Jan. 20 (final). PDX is a five-day exposition 
dedicated to showcasing new innovative 
film & video. Focusing on non-narrative 
works "going against the grain of main- 
stream entertainment" the PDX Film Festival 
is looking for "artistic, underground, quirky & 
challenging work that reflects contemporary 
culture, documents historic oddities, & is 
otherwise unclassifiable." Cats: doc, short, 
experimental, underground. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta SP DV Preview on VHS 
or DVD. Entry Fee: $15. Contact: Peripheral 
Produce/PDX Film Fest; pdxfilmfest® 
penpheralproduce.com; www.peripheralpro 
duce.com 

SAN FRANCISCO INT'L LGBT FILM FESTIVAL: 

Framelme 30, June 15-25, CA. Deadline: 
Dec. 23; Jan 27 (final). Fest one of the oldest 
& most respected, is committed to screen- 
ing the best in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & 
Transgender Film. Many works premiered in 



50 The Independent I January-February 2006 



fest go on to be programmed or distributed 
nat'lly & int'lly. Rough cuts accepted for pre- 
view if submitted on 1/2'.' Fest produced by 
Frameline, nonprofit arts organization dedi- 
cated to gay & lesbian media arts. Founded: 
1976. Cats: any style or genre, feature, doc, 
short, experimental. Awards: Frameline 
Award, Audience Award, 1 st Feature Aaward 
($10,000), Excellent Doc Award ($10,000). 
Formats: 35mm, 1/2',' Beta, 16mm, BETA 
cam SP- NTSC only. VHS- NTSC/PAL. Entry 
Fee: $15-35. Contact: Program Coordinator; 
(415) 703-8650; fax: 861-1404; info@frame 
line.org; www.frameline.org. 

SEATTLE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL. May 25-June 
18, WA. Deadline: Dec. 1; Jan. 1; Feb. 1 
(final). SIFF is the largest film fest in the US, 
presenting more than 200 features & 80 
short films to an audience of over 150,000 
filmgoers each year. Fest is one of five N. 
American film fests in which presentation 
will qualify a film w/out distribution for sub- 
mission to the Independent Spirit awards. 
Founded: 1976. Cats: feature, doc, short, ani- 
mation. Awards: $22,500 in cash pnzes;Best 
American Independent Film, Best New 
Director (Int'l), Best Short Film & audience- 
based Golden Space Needle, given for fea- 
ture film, director, actress, actor, doc, & 
shorts. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta, Beta 
SP DigiBeta. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $35-$90. Contact: SIFF; (206) 264-7919; 
fax: 264-7919; entries@seattlefilm.org; 
www.seattlefilm.org. 

ROCHESTER INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, May 4-6, NY 
Deadline: Dec. 1 ; Feb. 14 (final). Annnual fest 
is the longest-running film event dedicated 
to the art of short film & video (30 min max). 
Award winners screened at George 
Eastman House, Int'l Museum of 
Photography & Film. Founded: 1959. Cats: 
any style or genre, short, No music videos or 
installations. Formats: 16mm, 1/2", 35mm, 
DigiBeta, Beta SP Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $30; $40 (final). Contact: Movies 
on a Shoestring, Inc; (585) 234-7411; 
President@RochesterFilmFest.org; 
www.RochesterFilmFest.org. 

RURAL ROUTE FILM FESTIVAL, July 20-24, NY 
Deadline: Jan. 15; March 10 (final). Festival 
has been created to highlight works that 
deal w/ rural people & places. Works that 
incl. alternative country, country western & 



folk music are encouraged. For the on tour 
Rural Route Film Festival, please email film- 
fest@ruralroutefilms.com w/TOUR Request 
in the subject heading & contact info in the 
text. Founded: 2002. Cats: feature, doc, 
short, animation, experimental. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, Beta, mini-DV, DVD. preview 
on VHS (NTSC). Entry Fee: $30-45 (final)fea- 
tures (40 mm plus); $10-20 (final) shorts. 
Contact: Alan Webber; (718) 389-4367; film 
fest@ruralroutefilms.com; www.ruralroute 
films.com. 

SALT LAKE ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL, April 
13-16, UT Deadline: Feb. 4. The goal of the 
SLAP Film Festival is to not only create more 
awareness of the Asian Pacfic film industry 
but to also let the public have fun & watch 
free films. Any genre as long as the film is 
Asian or Pacific related. Founded: 1999. Cats: 
any style or genre. Contact: Lansia Wann c/o 
Karen Kwan; 801-581-8157; slapfilmfesti 
val@yahoo.com; geocities.com/slapfilmfes 
tival/. 

SAN FRANCISCO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL, July 
20- Aug. 7 CA. Deadline: Feb. 14 (final). The 
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival show- 
cases new independent American & int'l 
Jewish-subject cinema. The Festival pres- 
ents dramatic, documentary, experimental, 
& animated features & shorts about Jewish 
history, culture, & identity. Filmmakers need 
not be Jewish; films selected by subject. 
Founded: 1981. Cats: doc, experimental, ani- 
mation, feature, short. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta SP Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
$15; $25 (final). Contact: Leo Wong; (415) 
621-0556 xt. 302; fax: 621-0568; Jewish 
film@sfjff.org; leo@sfjff.org; www.sfjff.org. 

SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL, March 31- April 9, 
FL. Deadline: Feb. 6 (final). A program of 85 
independent & int'l narrative & documentary 
films plus shorts, sidebars, premieres, par- 
ties & symposiums. Fest aims to "support & 
encourage the filmmaker by supplying 
essential networking opportunities & open 
dialogue w/ intelligent consumers of film". 
Cats: feature, doc, short. Formats: 35mm, 
Beta SP DigiBeta. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: Feature: $30, $50 (final); short: 
$20-$35 (final); Student: $10, $30 (final). 
Contact: Max Burke-Phillips; (941) 364-9514; 
fax: (941) 364-8411; max@sarasotafilmfesti 
val.com; www.sarasotafilmfestival.com. 






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SEATTLE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, May 25-June 
18, WA. Deadline: Jan. 1 ; Feb. 1 (final). SIFF is 
the largest film fest in the US, presenting 
more than 200 features & 80 short films to an 
audience of over 150,000 filmgoers each year. 
Fest is one of five N. American film fests in 
which presentation will qualify a film w/out 
distribution for submission to the 
Independent Spirit awards. Founded: 1976. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, animation. Awards: 
$22,500 in cash pnzes.Best American 
Independent Film, Best New Director (Int'l), 
Best Short Film & audience-based Golden 
Space Needle, given for feature film, director, 
actress, actor, doc, & shorts. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta, Beta SR DigiBeta. Preview on 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $35-590. Contact: 
SIFF: (206) 264-7919: fax: 264-7919: entries 
@seattlef ilm.org; www.seattlefilm.org. 

SILVERD0CS: AFI/DlSCOVERY CHANNEL DOC 
FILM FESTIVAL, June 13-18, MD. Deadline: 
Jan. 27: March 3 (final). Showcasing over 80 
of the best new feature & short documen- 
taries from around the world. A 3-Day Int'l 
Doc Conference- pitch to dozens of buyers & 
program executives. All in Washington, DC, 
where politics, arts & media converge. Cats: 
doc, any style or genre. Awards: Awards 
totaling over $30,000 in cash & prizes.. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $25 (short), $30 
(feature): $30 (short, final), $35 (feature final). 
Contact: Festival: (301)495-6776: fax: 495- 
6777: info@silverdocs.com: www.silver 
docs.com orWithoutabox.com. 

SAN FRANCISCO INT'L LGBT FILM FESTIVAL: 

Frameline 30, June 15-25, CA. Deadline: 
Dec. 23: Jan. 27 (final). Fest one of the old- 
est & most respected, is committed to 
screening the best in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual 
& Transgender Film. Rough cuts accepted 
for preview if submitted on 1/2". Fest pro- 
duced by Frameline, nonprofit arts organiza- 
tion dedicated to gay & lesbian media arts. 
Founded: 1976. Cats: any style or genre, fea- 
ture, doc, short, experimental. Awards: 
Frameline Award, Audience Award, 1st 
Feature Award ($10,000), Excellent Doc 
Award ($10,000). Formats: 35mm, 1/2", 
Beta, 16mm, BETA cam SP- NTSC only. 
VHS- NTSC/PAL. Entry Fee: $15-35. Contact: 
Program Coordinator: (415) 703-8650: fax: 
861-1404: info@frameline.org: www.frame 
line.org. 



USA Film Festival / Nat" I Short Film & Video 
Competition, April 20-April 27, TX. Deadline: 
Shorts: Feb. 1; March 1 (final); Features: 
March 1. Film Fest features the "best new 
U.S. & foreign films, special tributes & ret- 
ros, the 28th Annual Nat'l Short Film & Video 
Competition, & more (50+ visiting filmmak- 
ers in attendance w/ 75+ films)." Within the 
Film Fest is the Short Film & Video competi- 
tion open to US made works only, is admin- 
istered by an independent nat'l jury of film 
experts, & is an Academy-qualified program 
(in the fiction, animation & experimental 
cats). Founded: 1969. Cats: short, feature, 
experimental, animation. Awards: Cash 
Prizes; Jury Awards. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, 3/4", 1/2", Beta SR DigiBeta, DVD. 
Preview on VHS (NTSC) & DVD. Entry Fee: 
$0-$50 (final). Contact: Festival; (214) 821- 
6300; fax: 821-6364; info@usafilm 
festival.com; www.usafilmfestival.com. 

UNITED STATES SUPER 8MM FILM & DIGITAL 
VIDEO FESTIVAL, February 17-19, NJ. 
Deadline: Jan. 20. Annual fest encourages 
any genre, but work must have predomi- 
nantly originated on Super 8 film or hi-8 or 
digital video. Rutgers Film Co-op/NJMAC 
has sponsored seven touring programs, 
culled from fest winners for the past several 
years, which have travelled extensively & 
seen new audiences. Cats: any style or 
genre. Awards: $4,000 in cash & prizes; 
selected winners go on Best of Fest Int'l 
Tour. Formats: Hi8, super 8, 16mm, 1/2',' 3/4" 
DV 8mm. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $40 
(check or money order payable to Rutgers 
Film Co-op/NJMAC). Contact: A.G. Nigrin; 
(732) 932-8482; fax: 932-1935; 
njmac@aol.com; www.njfilmfest.com. 

INTERNATIONAL 

BANFF WORLD TELEVISION FESTIVAL, June 11- 
14, Canada. Deadline: Feb. 28. This fest is 
Canada's premier int'l event for program 
makers & content creators in television & 
new media. Founded: 1979. Cats: See 
Website for Full List. Awards: Sculptures; 
Global TV Grand Prize, $50,000; NHK 
President's Prize, $25,000 (project shot or 
postproduced on HDTV); Telefilm Canada 
Prizes, two $20,000 awards for the Best 
Independent Canadian Production in English 
& in French. Formats: Beta, Beta SP VHS 
(NTSC or PAL); DVD. Entry Fee: $250 (U.S. 



52 The Independent I January-February 2006 



or Canadian dollars); $100 (original content 
created for webcasting, w no prior or simul- 
taneous appearance in another medium). 
Contact: Festival; (403) 678-1216; fax: 
678-9269; info@achillesmedia.com; 

www.bwtvf.com. 

CANADIAN FILM CENTRE'S WORLDWIDE 
SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, June 13-18, Canada 
Deadline: Feb. 24. Competitive event held 
in Toronto. The Festival is dedicated to cele- 
brating & exposing audiences to the excit- 
ing world of short film, & is the "largest 
Festival of this kind in North America." The 
Festival is accredited by the Academy 
Awards, winners of the Best Animated & 
Best Live-Action Short awards can be nom- 
inated for an Oscar. Cats: short, doc, ani- 
mation, experimental, music video. 
Awards: $125,000 in cash & prizes. 
Formats: 16mm, 35mm, Beta SF? DigiBeta. 
VHS. Entry Fee: 15-50. Contact: Festival; 
(416) 445-1446 ext. 312; fax: (416) 445- 
9481 ; shortfilmfest@cdnfilmcentre.com; 
www.worldwideshortfilmfest.com. 

GOLDEN PRAGUE INT'L TELEVISION FESTIVAL, 

May 7-11, Czech Republic. Deadline: Feb. 
28 (forms); Mar. 15 (preview tapes). Seeks 
music & dance focused television programs 
more than five min. in length in the folow- 
mg competitive cats: music or dance pro- 
grams made for television; classical, jazz, & 
world music or dance programs adapted for 
television; documentary programs; & live 
recordings of performances. Awards: 5000 
Euros. Formats: 1/2", DigiBeta. VHS. Entry 
Fee: 10-150 Euros. Contact: Festival; (42) 2 
6113 7014; fax: (42) 2 6113 7124; golden 
prague@czech-tv.cz; www.czech-tv.cz. 

INSIDE OUT: TORONTO LESBIAN & GAY FILM & 
VIDEO FESTIVAL, May 18-28, Canada. 
Deadline: Jan. 16. Fest hosts the largest les- 
bian & gay fest in Canada & one of the 
largest in the world. Founded: 1991. Cats: 
feature, doc, short, animation, experimen- 
tal, music video, student, youth media, fam- 
ily, children, TV. Awards: Awards are given 
for both local & int'l work; more than $5,000 
in cash & prizes is awarded annually. 
Formats: 16mm, Beta, 35mm. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Kathleen 
Mullen; (416) 977-6847; fax: 977- 
8025; inside@msideout.on.ca; Website: 
www.insideout.on.ca. 



NEW DAY FILMS is the premiere distribution 
company for social issue media owned and 
managed by filmmakers. We have distributed 
documentary film and video for over 30 years 
to non-theatrical markets. With a strong com- 
mitment to diversity within our membership 
and the content of the media we represent, 
we welcome your interest! 

www.newday.com • join@newday.com 



Or call Alice Elliott: 212.924.7151 



Seeking energetic 
independent makers 
of social issue 




New Year's resolutions 
not quite working out? 



Then try the AIVF Resolution: 




1 . Tell someone about AIVF 

2. Buy a membership for a filmmaker friend 

3. Donate to AIVF 

imes 
to a i li ise and think about a few things 

: I ,!H lie i I, il \l\ I 



I tow would you like to I n ered? 




You can mail in youi donation or \ Kit our website: 

lat Manager MVl I04 Hudson Streel 6th I I N> N 

| video and filmmakers 



AIVF 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 53 




"Three things 
make True/False 

the best US 
documentary 

festival. First. 

the perfect number 

of films. Second, a 

collegia!, egalitarian. 

non-competitive 

environment for all 

the filmmakers. 

Third, the most 

stylish hooded 

sweatshirt." 

-John Pierson 

independent film guru 

Please join us. 

The True/False Film Festival 

Columbia. Missouri* Feb 23-26. 2006 

Bellingham. Washington • April 21-23. 2006 

www.truefalse.org 



INT'L SHORT FILM FESTIVAL HAMBURG, June 
7-12, Germany. Deadline: Feb. 15. Annual 
Festival is a forum for presenting diversity of 
int'l short films & providing a meeting place 
for filmmakers from home & abroad. 
Consecutively run w/ the Hamburg 
Children's Film Festival. Shorts must be 
under 20 mm., except for Three-Minute 
Quickie entries (must be under 3 min.). 
Founded: 1985. Cats: short, any style or 
genre, children. Awards: Hamburg Short 
Film Award, No Budget Award, Audience 
Awards. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, super 8, S- 
VHS, Beta SR DVD, 1/2", Mini-DV Preview 
on VHS. If previews are not in German or 
English, please enclose text list. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: c/o Short Film Agency; 011 
49 40 39 10 6323; fax: 39 10 6320; festi 
val@shortfilm.com; www.shortfilm.com;. 

MARSEILLES INT'L FESTIVAL OF EXPERIMENTAL 
VIDEO, France. Deadline: Mar. 1. a.k.a Festival 
Images Contre Nature, seeks video works 
that "give more importance to the nature of 
the vanishing image than to the content" & 
that deal w/ themes of time, ercetion, space, 
or movement. Formats: S-VHS, Mini-DV, DVD. 
VHS. Contact: Festival; (33) 49 142 2175; fax: 
(33) 49 142 2175; icn@p-silo.org; p-silo.org. 

OBERHAUSEN INT'L SHORT FILM FESTIVAL. 

May 5-10, Germany. Deadline: Jan. 15. The 
world's oldest short film fest offers a forum 
for aesthetic & technological innovation & 
reflection. There are no limits as to form or 
genre but films in the Int'l & Children's & 
Youth Competitions must not exceed 35 
mm. & have been made after Jan. 1 of the 
previous year. Founded: 1954. Cats: Short, 
Any style or genre, Children, Music Video. 
Awards: Prizes worth a total of 37500 EURO 
(approx. $46,000). Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
Beta SP/PAL, DV, S-VHS, Super 8, DVD. 
VHS, S-VHS, DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Melanie Piguel, Coordinator; 011 49 
208 825 2652; fax: 49 208 825 
5413; info@kurzfilmtage.de; www.kurz film- 
tage.de. 

SKIP CITY INT'L D-CINEMA FESTIVAL, July 15 
23, Japan. Deadline: Feb. 17th. Fest cele- 
brates the growing possibilities & rising tal- 
ents powered by cutting-edge technology. 
The main program showcases the new 
wave of digital productions. Cats: feature, 
short, any style or genre, animation, experi- 



mental, doc. Awards: A total of 150,000 Yen 
in awards. Formats: Most Digital formats, 
DVD, Mini-DV, 1/2". Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Festival; 011 81 48 263 0818; fax: 
011 81 262 5635; mfo@skipcity-dcf.jp; 
www.skipcity-dcf.jp. 

TORONTO DOC FORUM, May 3-4, Canada 
Deadline: Feb. 1. Part of the Hot Docs 
Canadian Int'l Doc Festival. An unprecedent- 
ed North American market opportunity to 
locate financing for your social, cultural & 
political documentary one-offs & limited 
series. Based on the prestigious FORUM in 
Amsterdam. Two days. 36 Pitching slots. 
40+ Int'l Commissioning Editors Preview on 
VHS. Contact: Michelle McLean; 416-203- 
2155 ext. 288; www.hotdocs.ca. Toronto 
Jewish Film Festival, April 20-28, Canada. 
Deadline: Feb. 1. Second largest Jewish film 
fest in North America. Fest is devoted to 
chronicling the diversity of Jewish life & 
experiences from around the world. 
Founded: 1993. Cats: feature, doc, short. 
Formats: Beta SR 16mm, 35mm, VHS 
(Secam, PAL). Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
no entry fee. Contact: Shlomo 
Schwartzberg, Dir. of Programming; 
416-324-9316; fax: 416-324-9415; tjff@inter 
log.com; www.tjff.com. 

YORKTON SHORT FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, May 

25-28, Canada. Deadline: Feb. 15. Longest 
running fest of its kind in Canada. Awards 
avail, in 18 genre cats, 16 craft cats. Festival 
incls. public screenings, mini cinema, work- 
shops & activities. Cats: Doc, Children, 
short. Awards: The Golden Sheaf Award. 
Formats: 1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: CAN $75. Contact: Festival; (306) 782- 
7077; fax: (306) 782-1550; mfo@yorkton- 
shortfilm.org; www.yorktonshortfilm.org. 

VUES D'AFRIQUE, April 20-30, Canada. 
Deadline: Jan. 31. Fest, founded in 1983, is 
an important showcase for films from Africa 
& diaspora. Categories include: African & 
Creole docs, World View, Canadian Vision, 
Expositions Info Kiosks, Music, Dance, & 
Literature. Founded: 1983. Cats: Feature, 
Doc, Short, African/diaspora, animation, TV. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP Preview 
on DVD or VHS. Entry Fee: $7 (Canadian). 
Contact: Aunelle Tchetchenigbo; (514) 284- 
3322 xt228; fax: (514) 845-0631; mfo@vues 
dafrique.org; www.vuesdafnque.org. 



54 The Independent I January-February 2006 



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BUY | RENT | SELL 

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE AT LOW PRICES, NO 
RESTRICTIONS: Offering a High Quality, 
Extensive Library of Public Domain 
Footage spanning the 20th Century at 
prices independent producers can afford. 
Footage Farm (888) 270-1414; 
www.footagefarm.com. 

OFFICE SPACE within well-established 
video facility. 5 Office Rooms/ Production 
Space available. Access to adjoining con- 
ference room, kitchen, large sun-filled 
lounge. Stage & post rooms on site. 22 
Year-old Full Production/Post Production 
Facility seeking media-related tenants for 
mutually beneficial relationship. Great 
Chelsea location. (212) 206-1402. 

UNION SQUARE AREA STAGE RENTALS, pro- 
duction space, Digibeta, Beta SR DVCAM, 
mini-DV, hi-8, 24-R projectors, grip, lights, 
dubs, deck and camera rentals. 
Uncompressed Avid and FCP suites, too. 
Production Central (212) 631-0435 

DISTRIBUTION 

FANLIGHT PRODUCTIONS 25 years as an 
industry leader! Join more than 100 
award-winning film & video producers. 
Send us your new works on healthcare, 
mental health, aging, disabilities, and 
related issues. (800) 937-4113; www. fan 
light.com. 



NEW DAY FILMS seeks energetic independ- 
ent film and video makers with social 
issue docs for distribution to non-theatrical 
markets. If you want to maximize your 
audience while working within a remark- 
able community of activist filmmakers, 
New Day is the perfect home for your film. 
New Day is committed to promoting diver- 
sity within our membership and the media 
we represent. Explore our catalog at 
www.newday.com, then contact Alice 
Elliott at join@newday.com or 212-924- 
7151. 

THE CINEMA GUILD, leading film/video/mul- 
timedia distributor, seeks new doc, fiction, 
educational & animation programs for dis- 
tribution. Send videocassettes or discs for 
evaluation to: The Cinema Guild, 130 
Madison Ave., 2nd fl., New York, NY 
10016; (212) 685-6242; mfo@CIN 
EMAGUILD.COM; Ask for our Distribution 
Services brochure. 

THE ARAB RADIO AND TELEVISION 
NETWORK, or ART, is planning to introduce 
a non-Arab language satellite channel in 
the Middle East. This Film Channel is seek- 
ing independent feature films, short films 
and documentaries for future program- 
ming. We want to introduce the Middle 
East to films that are not commercial. Go 
global with us. For submission information 
please contact Mustafa Tell, Broadcast 
Director, ART at broadcast@art-tv.]o with 
a short synopsis of your film. 



FREELANCE 

35MM & 16MM PROD. PKG. W/ DP. COMPLETE 
PACKAGE w/ DP's own Am 35BL, 16SR, 
HMIs, lighting, dolly, Tulip crane, camjib, 
DAT grip & 5-ton truck, more. Call for reel: 
Tom Agnello (201) 741-4367; road 
toindy@aol.com. 

ARE YOU STUCK? Fernanda Rossi, script & 
documentary doctor, specializes in narra- 
tive structure in all stages of the filmmak- 
ing process, including story development, 
fundraismg trailers and post-production. 
She has doctored over 30 films and is the 
author of "Trailer Mechanics." For private 
consultations and workshops visit 
www.documentarydoctor.com or write to 
info@documentarydoctor.com. 

BRENDAN C. FLYNT Director of Photography 
for feature films and shorts. Credits: 
"Remedy" starring Frank Vincent and "El 
Rey "(Goya Award). Have 35mm,s16,HD 
equipment and contacts w/festivals, dis- 
tributors, and name actors. Call 
anytime (212) 208-0968 or bcfly 
nt@yahoo.com; www.dpflynt.com 

COMPOSER MIRIAM CUTLER loves to collab- 
orate: docs, features. Lost In La 
Mancha/IFC, Scout's Honor, Licensed To 
Kill, Pandemic: Facing Aids/HBO, Indian 
Point/HBO, Positively Naked/HBO, Stolen 
Childhoods, Amy's & more. (310) 398- 
5985 mir.cut@venzon.net. www.miriam 
cutler.com. 

COMPOSER: Original music for your film or 
video project. Will work with any budget. 
Complete digital studio. NYC area. Demo 
CD upon request. Call Ian O'Brien: (201) 
222-2638; iobrien@bellatlantic.net. 

D.P WITH ARRI SR SUPER 16/16MM and 

35BL-2 camera packages. Expert lighting 
and camerawork for independent films, 
music videos, etc. Superb results on a 
short schedule and low budget. Great 
prices. Willing to travel. Matthew 617-244- 
6730. 

FREELANCE CAMERA GROUP IN NYC seeking 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 55 



professional cameramen and soundmen 
w/ solid Betacam experience to work w/ 
wide array of clients. If qualified, contact 
COA at (212) 505-1911. Must have docu- 
mentary/ news samples or reel. 

LOCATION SOUND: Over 25 yrs sound exp. 
w/ timecode Nagra & DAT quality mics & 
mixers. Reduced rates for low-budget 
projects. Harvey & Fred Edwards, (518) 
677-5720; (819) 459-2680; edfilms@world 
net.att.net; www.edwardsfilms.com. 

STORYBOARDS make complicated scenes 
clear. Kathryn Roake has drawn over 15 
films and is the winner of a New Line 
Cinema grant, another, the winner of an 
HBO grant. I work on union and non union 
films. Kathryn 718-788-2755. 

OPPORTUNITIES | GIGS 

50 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR VIDEO BUSINESS. 
FREE REPORT. Grow a successful video busi- 
ness in Legal, Wedding, Corporate, TV and 
more, http://videouniversity.com/50web.htm 

CAREER AND SCRIPT CONSULTANT Emmy 
nominated Ellen Sandler (Co-Executive 
Producer "Everybody Loves Raymond") 
can help anyone avoid costly, time con- 
suming pitfalls and deadends in the 
Hollywood game. She works one on one 
with you on pitching skills, script re-writes, 
career strategies, including networking 
and relocating to Los Angeles. Her 
approach follows specific guidelines and 
proven techniques, but is always cus- 
tomized to the specific needs, strengths 
and budget of each client. Email: 
elsand@comcast.net for more information 
and to request a sample consultation at no 
charge. 

ECHOTROPE, OMAHA NE, works collabora- 
tively with other art venues such as the 
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and 
UNO Art Gallery to organize 
exhibitions/screenings. Seeking submis- 
sions for the 2006 - 2007 Deadline 2/1/05 
for CE06/ CE07 Accept MiniDV, DVD. 
Please include current CV, support materi- 
als, contact info, SASE FOR RETURN: 
Echotrope PO. Box 31394 Omaha NE, 
68181-0394. www.echotrope.org. 



FILMMAKING INSTRUCTOR NEEDED Concord 
Academy is a coeducational independent 
boarding and day school of 340 students 
grades 9-12. It offers a rigorous liberal arts 
curriculum in which the arts play an impor- 
tant role. Members of the Visual Arts 
department are working artists who main- 
tain their own studios and exhibit their 
work. The Visual Arts Department is look- 
ing for a 60-80% time filmmaking instruc- 
tor. Candidates are expected to teach 
three levels of filmmaking which includes 
film (Super 8 and 16mm), video and 
digital video production and post-produc- 
tion. Other courses could include 
Screenwriting, Film History and New 
Media Production. Experience with Final 
Cut Pro, Avid DV express pro and other 
graphic software helpful. Production expe- 
rience and knowledge of film history and 
criticism essential. Teaching experience 
and MFA preferred. Instructor supervises 
a well-equipped facility with the help of a 
tech assistant. Duties beyond the class- 
room include advising students and serv- 
ing on committees. To apply send resume, 
teaching philosophy and three references 
to: Cynthia Katz, Chair, Visual Arts 
Department Concord Academy, 166 Main 
Street Concord, MA 01742 Review of 
applications to begin November 1. Position 
open until filled. Finalists will be asked to 
submit a sample reel. No telephone 
calls please. For questions, email cyn- 
thia_katz@concordacademy.org. Concord 
Academy actively seeks applicants who 
reflect and support our mission-driven 
commitment to creating and maintaining a 
diverse and inclusive school community. 

PREPRODUCTION | 
DEVELOPMENT 

GET YOUR SCREENPLAY READY FOR PRODUC- 
TION! Former Miramax story analyst, 
School of Visual Arts professor and author 
of Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters 
(Hyperion, August 2002), will analyze your 
screenplay and write you contructive in- 
depth studio style notes. I will go right to 
the heart of what works in your script and 
what needs improvement as well as offer- 
ing suggestions about HOW to fix it. Trust 
me, I'm not looking for "formulas." Every 
screenplay is different. Since I'm an inde- 



pendent filmmaker, I specialize in helping 
filmmakers get their scripts ready for 
shooting. Face it. You're going to spend a 
lot of money to make your film. Spend a 
little up front to make sure your script 
works. It's the ONLY way to pull off a low 
budget film effectively! It will cost you 
1000 times more to fix script problems 
AFTER the production begins. Reasonable 
rates, references. Michael Tierno, mtier 
no@nyc.rr.com. 

POSTPRODUCTION 

AUDIO POST-PRODUCTION Audio comple 
tion on your Doc or Film. Well Credited 
and experienced. Visit website for Credit 
List. Terra Vista Media, Inc. Tel 562-437- 
0393. 

BRODSKY & TREADWAY film-to-tape trans- 
fers, wet-gate, scene-by-scene, reversal 
film only. Camera original Regular 8mm, 
Super 8, and 16mm. For appointment call 
(978) 948-7985. 




WEB 

WEB SITE DESIGNER: Create multimedia 
web sites, integrating video, sound, and 
special effects, that promote your films 
and/or your company, www.sabineprobst- 
design.com. Info: Sabine Probst, phone: 
646-226-7881, email: sabme@spromo.net. 

INDIEVILLE: With more than 26,000 unique 
visitors per month and 5,200 email 
newsletter subscribers join the indie 
crusade at http://mdieville.net. 



56 The Independent I January-February 2006 



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COMPETITIONS 

ALWAYS INDEPENDENT FILMS shows mde 
pendent feature films, short films, docs & 
animation. In addition, AIF features original 
made-for-lntemet content as well as on 
line film festivals, www.alwaysif.com. 

SHORT FILM SLAM, NYC's only weekly 
short film competition, is looking for sub- 
missions. Competition on Sundays at 2 
p.m. At the end of each show the audi- 
ence votes for a winning film, which 
receives further screenings at the Pioneer 
Theater. To enter, you must have a film, 30 
min. or less, in a 35mm, 16mm, BetaSR 
VHS, or DVD format. To submit your film, 
stop by the PioneerTheater (155 E. 3rd St.) 
during operating hours, call (212) 254- 
7107, or visit www.twoboots.com /pioneer 
for more information. 

APPLAUSE SCREENWRITING COMPETITION 

calling for original works of an author or 
authors and not previously optioned, pur- 
chased, or produced. Adaptations (no docu- 
mentaries) are welcome provided the 
author assumes sole legal responsibility for 
obtaining copyrights to the adapted work. 
Prizes: Script submission to agents, man- 
agers, producers, lunch with Hollywood 
execs, exposure and promotion packages, 
coverage, script critiques, software, maga- 
zines, and other great product prizes. For 
more info visit www.applause4you.com. 

DRAMA GARAGE seeks completed and orig- 
inal feature-length screenplays that do not 
exceed 120 pages and have limited camera 



angles. If chosen, you'll receive a fully pro- 
duced, staged reading of your screenplay in 
Hollywood, referrals, contacts, and much 
more. Please visit www.dramagarage.com 
or call 323-993-5700 for more information. 

CONFERENCES/ WORKSHOPS 

"CREATIVE DEMOLITION." The 52nd Robert 
Flaherty Film Seminar, curated by Ariella 
Ben-Dov and Steve Seid, will be held at 
Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, 
June 17-24 2006. Register online at 
www.flahertyseminar.org. Fellowships, 
with a partial fee reduction, are available. 
Regional Fellowships, with a full fee waiver, 
may also become available. Deadline: 
March 20 2006. See website for more 
details or e-mail ifs@flahertyseminar.org. 

VOLUNTEER LAWYERS FOR THE ARTS: offer 
seminars on "Copyright Basics," "Nonprofit 
Incorporation & Tax Exemption" & more. 
Reservations must be made. Contact: (212) 
319-2910 x. 9. 

24TH STREET WRITERS GROUP seeking new 
members - Monday Nights. Well estab- 
lished Manhattan based screen writing 
group is seeking committed new members 
for Monday evening meetings. If interested 
in being considered for membership, 
please send a 30 page writing sample in 
PDF format to the24thstwriters@aol.com. 

PUBLICATIONS 

DATABASE & DIRECTORY OF LATIN AMERICAN 
FILM & VIDEO, organized by Int'l Media 



Resources Exchange, seeks works by Latin 
American & US Latino ind. producers. To 
send work or for info, contact Roselly 
Torres, LAVA, 124 Washington PL, NY, NY 
10014; (212) 463-0108; imre@igc.org. 

DEEP FOCUS: A REPORT ON THE FUTURE OF 
INDEPENDENT MEDIA What are the con 
tours of this decade's emerging media land- 
scape? How can makers, funders and 
organizations adapt to opportunities and 
challenges distinctive to this new environ- 
ment? In this far-reaching new report six 
leading independent media organizations 
partner with Global Business Network to 
take a bold, provocative look at the future. 
Free to members and available for purchase 
at www.namac.org. 

RESOURCES/ FUNDS 

THE FLEISHHACKER FOUNDATION Offers 
$1,000-$10,000 biannually to support 
works by San Francisco Bay artists that are 
in post-production in film, video and media 
arts projects. Priority will be given to new 
works and projects with a good chance of 
being completed. Students are ineligible. 
The annual operating budget must be 
between $100,000- $750,000 annually. 
Deadline is July 15th and January 15th For 
more information, visit: www.fleishhacker 
foundation.org 

THE FUND FOR WOMEN ARTISTS is a non 

profit organization dedicated to helping 
women get the resources they need to do 
their creative work. We focus on women 
using their art to address social issues, 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 57 



especially women in theatre, film, and 
video, and we have two primary goals: To 
Challenge Stereotypes - We support the 
creation of art that reflects the full diversity 
and complexity of women's lives. To 
Increase Opportunities - We advocate for 
women artists to be paid fairly and to have 
more opportunities to make a living from 
their creative work. To learn more about our 
work, and to sign up to receive these fund- 
ing newsletters, visit our web page at: 
www.WomenArts.org . 

THE LEEWAY FOUNDATION, which supports 
individual women artists, arts programs, 
and arts organizations in the Greater 
Philadelphia region, has announced the Art 
and Change Grants provide immediate, 
short-term grants of up to $2,500 to 
women artists in the Philadelphia region 
who need financial assistance to take 
advantage of opportunities for art and 
change. The artist's opportunity for change 
must be supported by or be in collaboration 
with a Change Partner — a person, organi- 



zation, or business that is providing the 
opportunity or is a part of the opportunity in 
some way. Eligible Change Partners include 
mentors, editors, galleries, community art 
spaces, theaters, nonprofit organizations, 
film studios, and clubs. (Art and Change 
Grant Deadlines: April 11, June 20, and 
October 31, 2005.) Visit the Leeway 
Foundation Web site for grantmaking guide 
lines and application forms. 

MICROCINEMAS / SCREENINGS 

FILM AND VIDEO 825 - Series of bi-monthly 
screenings of locally, nationally and interna- 
tionally recognized film and video artists' 
work, providing a forum for presenting 
experimental film and video in Los Angeles. 
In a city dominated by Hollywood, venues 
such as ours become a necessity for artists 
working in time-based media that is outside 
the mainstream of narrative cinema. Our 
curatorial vision is open to both shorts and 
features in experimental, performance, ani- 
mation, and documentary forms. Film 



A/ideo 825, Gallery 825/LAAA, 825 N. La 
Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069, T 
(310) 652-8272, F: (310) 652-9251, 
gallery825@laaa.org, www.laaa.org/calen 
dar/film_video.html 

ROOFTOP FILMS Submit your movies! We 
are currently accepting films for our 10th 
anniversary season, the 2006 Summer 
Series. We want motion that tell us about 
where you live and how you live, and we 
seek independent movies with original 
ideas, of production values. We accept 
films of all genres and lengths. The festi- 
val consists of weekly shows in parks, 
along piers, in historical locations or on 
rooftops in New York City. Curators 
encouraged to submit entire programs of 
films. For information, please visit 
www.rooftopfilms.com or email Dan 
Nuxoll, programming director, at sub 
mit@rooftopflims.com. 

SQUEAKY WHEEL'S long-running free open 
screening is one of our most popular pro- 



AIVF presents: 

THE PRODUCER SERIES 

IB 




with Innes Smolansky 



Thursdays - Winter/Spring 2006 
6:30 - 8:30pm at the AIVF office, 
304 Hudson St., 6th floor, NYC. 
$25- AIVF Members 
$30- General Public 
Series Fees 

5 sessions pass: $100 AIVF members 
$125 general public 

Advanced purchase is recommended. 

Register on-line at: 
www.aivf.org/store 
or call 212/807-1400x301 



get it made. 



January 12 



CORPORATE 
SPONSORSHIP/ 
PRODUCT PLACEMENT 



February 2 



RAISING MONEY FOR 
DOCUMENTARIES 



March 2 



AGENTS/ 
REPRESENTATION 



March 16 



CASTING YOUR 
TALENT 



April 6 



MUSIC IN 
TELEVISON/FILM 



April 27 



FESTIVAL/FILM SERIES 
PROGRAMMERS 



May 11 



SELLING YOUR 
DOCUMENTARY FILM 



June 1 



SELLING YOUR 
NARRATIVE FILM 



Innes Smolansky, entertainment attorney and producers' rep moderates the 
essential with local industry players and representatives. In Brief provides 
the platform to get questions answered and advice to help you get it made. 



www.aivf.org 



58 The Independent I January-February 2006 



grams: second Wednesday of Every Month 
8pm! Free! Filmmakers, video/sound/digital 
artists, community documentarians, and 
students of all ages are welcome to bring 
short works for insightful critique. The open 
screening is perfect for newly created works 
or works in progress. Bring works less than 
15 minutes. Call ahead to screen a longer 
work. We created some new mini-themes 
(you don't have to make work on the theme, 
but if it inspires you, go ahead) to get more 
people in the door! Formats accepted: Super 
8, 16mm, video (mini-dv, svhs, vhs), cas- 
settes, cds, Mac compatible cd-rom. Please 
visit www.squeaky.org/opportunities.html 
#ongoing for more information. 

BROADCAST / CABLECAST 

AXLEGREASE PUBLIC ACCESS CABLE SHOW 
Tuesdays at 2:00 PM on Channel 20 
Become part of current media making his- 
tory and submit your media work to be 
shown on TV, on our legendary public 
access cable show. Commercial free, 
100% media art TV. Provide us with mini- 
dv, vhs, svhs, or 8mm video (ntsc) tapes 
with a running time of 28 min. or less. Your 
work may also be displayed in our store- 
front window. Your entry will become a 
part of our Member Viewing Library unless 
you include an SASE. Axlegrease is open to 
local and international artists. Send tapes 
Attention: Axlegrease. Formats accepted: 
mini-dv, s-vhs, vhs or dvd. Please visit 
www.squeaky.org/opportunities. html#ongo 
ing for more information. 

OPEN SCREENINGS Second Wednesday of 
Every Month 8pm! Free! Squeaky Wheel's 
long-running free open screening is one of 
our most popular programs. Filmmakers, 
video/sound/digital artists, community docu- 
mentarians, and students of all ages are wel- 
come to bring short works for insightful cri- 
tique. The open screening is perfect for 
newly created works or works in progress. 
Bring works less than 15 minutes. Call 
ahead to screen a longer work. We created 
some new mini-themes (you don't have to 
make work on the theme, but if it inspires 
you, go ahead) to get more people in the 
door! Formats accepted: Super 8, 16mm, 



video (mini-dv, svhs, vhs), cassettes, cds, 
Mac compatible cd-rom. 

THE DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL is a new digital 
cable channel dedicated to airing, exclusive- 
ly, the works of the independent documen- 
tary filmmaker. There isn't a single type of 
documentary that they will not show, and 
they are not afraid of controversy. That said, 
they prefer the edgier, more personal films 
that tell a story and that show something in 
a unique, visual manner. See the website for 
submission instructions. Submissions 
accepted on a rolling basis. Please visit 
http://documentarychannel.com/ mdex.htm 
for more information or email 
programs@documentarychannel.com 

DUTV: A progressive, nonprofit educational 
channel in Philadelphia seeks works by indie 
producers. All genres & lengths considered. 
Will return tapes. BetaSP DV, dvd accepted 
for possible cablecast. Contact: Debbie 
Rudman, DUTV, 3141 Chestnut St., Bldg 9B, 
Rm 0016,Philadelphia, PA 19104; (215) 895- 
2927; dutv@drexel.edu; www.dutv.org. 

GET YOUR FILM SHOWN ON SKY! Propeller TV 
is the new national channel for film and tele- 
vision talent, to launch in the new year on 
SKY. The Film First strand of the channel is 
looking for short films to be considered for 
broadcast. They can be any length and 
genre. You don't have to be Spielberg to be 
considered for the channel, you could be an 
independent filmmaker or even a communi- 
ty-based group. Please send films on DVD 
for broadcast consideration to: John Offord, 
Propeller TV, c/o Screen Yorkshire, 46 The 
Calls, Leeds LS2 7EYjohn@propellertv.co.uk 
(0)7724 243680. 

WIRESTREAM FILMSEARCH seeks films for 
broadcast. WireStream Productions, in Co- 
operation with WireStream networks, is 
seeking independent films and television 
series for broadcast. Genre welcome 
include Drama, Comedy, SciFi, Fantasy, 
Nonfiction/Reality and Educational films 
and series, suitable for general/mature 
audiences. All entries must be available for 
all rights worldwide. Entries previously 
presented are eligible subject to confirma- 



tion of rights. Submit entries to Waye 
Hicks, Executive Producer, via email to 
wayne@wirestreamproductions.com, or 
by Parcel Post to WireStream Productions, 
3005B W.Hwy 76, Branson MO 65616. 

WEBCAST 

FILMFIGHTS.COM democratic filmfestival 
that anyone can enter, 3 times a month. 
We filmfight every ten days of the month 
(the 10th, 20th, and 30th) and submissions 
are due 1 day before the fight-given a title 
or genre, the submissions are voted on 
through the website. The winner is the 
winner and goes into the archives, and 
their video sits front and center until the 
next winner is crowned, along with a little 
blurb about whatever they feel like. 
Please visit the website for a complete list 
of guidelines: http://filmfights.com/sub 
mit.shtml. 

KNOWITALLVIDEO created an online video 
community aimed at world's largest user- 
generated video collection. With an 
exhaustive list of categories covering 
every conceivable subject, any wannabe 
star or director with a camera can easily 
upload short-form digital videos for an 
unlimited audience of Internet and wire- 
less PDA users who search the site by key 
word or category, all completely free of 
charge-equal parts talent showcase and 
information resource. For more informa- 
tion please visit www.knowitallvideo.com. 

WWW.VIDEOART.NET is looking for new 
filmmakers, video artists, producers, etc. 
to post their clips into a searchable data- 
base. Registration is free. We're also inter- 
ested in learning about your work, new 
links, trends, equipment, and general film 
dialogue in the forums. A great opportuni- 
ty to showcase your talents and discuss 
your work in the forums. 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 59 




"The script is locked. 

Now I just need 

to cast the lead — 

a luminously beautiful 

arachibutyrophobe 

who ' s on the run 

from drug dealers, 

her ex-husband, 

and herself . " 




r 



You re sear 



for a great actor. 



There are over 100,000 SAG members searching for great roles. 

Let us help you find each other. 

To learn more about how the Screen Actors Guild has made it easier 
than ever for independent filmmakers to work with professional actors, visit 

www.sagindie.org 



Work 
Wanted 

By Erica Berenstein 



Noncommercial notices are listed free of charge as 
space permits. The Independent reserves the right to 
edit for length and makes no guarantees about dura- 
tion of listing. Limit submissions to 60 words and indi- 
cate how long your information will be current. Listings 
must be submitted to notices@aivf.org by the first of 
the month two months prior to cover date (e.g., Sept. 
1 for Nov. issue). Remember to give us complete con- 
tact info (name, address, and phone number). Listings 
do not constitute an endorsement by The Independent 
or AIVF We try to be as current and accurate as possi- 
ble, but nevertheless: double-check details before 
sending anyone anything. 



AMAZEFILMS is constantly looking for feature 
films and short films to include in its pro- 
gramming. We welcome filmmakers and 
writers to send us their work for considera- 
tion free of charge. If you feel that your short 
film, feature film or documentary film that 
you have produced would make a good addi- 
tion to the AmazeFilms programming, 
please fill out the film submission form: 
www.amazefilms.com/submissions. 

ATOMFILMS brings you all the best shorts - 
animation, comedy, action, sci-fi, drama, and 
more! There are lots of places to post your 
film or animation on the Wet) — but there is 
only one AtomFilms. Filmmakers around the 
world know us as the place to go to get dis- 
covered, get paid, and make more movies. 
Do you have a short film or animation that 
we should see? www.atomfilms.com/sub- 
mit/ 

HOLLYWOOD GATEWAY SCREENWRITING 
CONTEST: The mission of the Hollywood 
Gateway Screenwriting Contest is to 
guide aspiring writers to their success 
through opportunity, mentoring and unpar- 
alleled access to Hollywood decision mak- 
ers. $5,000 Cash prize and an initial 12- 
month option agreement against a poten- 
tial $100,000 purchase price, among other 
prizes. Early Entries February 28th, 2005 - 
Special Early Bird Entry Cost $35.00. 
Contest Deadline April 30th, 2005 - Entry 
Cost $40.00 Late Entrany June 30th, 2005 
- Entry Cost $50.00. Type of Material: 
Screenplays 80-140 pages. International 
entries written in English are welcome. 
For more information go to www.holly- 
wood gateway.com/details.php 

THE DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL is a new digital 
cable channel dedicated to airing, exclusive- 
ly, the works of the independent documen- 
tary filmmaker. There isn't a single type of 



documentary that they will not show, and 
they are not afraid of controversy. That said, 
they prefer the edgier, more personal films 
that tell a story and that show something in 
a unique, visual manner. See the website for 
submission instructions. Submissions 
accepted on a rolling basis. Please visit 
http://documentarychannel.com /index. htm 
for more information or email 
programs@documentarychan nel.com 

COMEDY EXPRESS TV seeks funny films 
under 7 min. to show and promote on tele- 
vision. We will show, onscreen, the credits 
and contact information for the filmmakers, 
including your 15,000! Please look at our 
website www.comedyexpresstv.com which 
gives more background as well as the online 
release which MUST accompany all submis- 
sions. Contact: Adam Gilad 9229 Sunset 
Blvd LA CA 90069 adamgilad@mac.com 310 
271 0023. 

MACHINE DREAMS is developing a series of 
theatrical shows for national audiences that 
will involve original music, movies, movie 
shorts, animations, games, graphics and art. 
We are conducting a global search for the 
best ORIGINAL independent material in the 
following categories: Social Commentary & 
Societal Issues, Humor and Satire, Special 
Effects, Interactive "No Death" Gaming, 
Great Media in any form (music, music 
video, movie, movie shorts, animation, 
games, graphics, art) We plan to incorporate 
your work in one or more of the following 
ways: 1. Include it in a juried show in New 
York City, with winners receiving recognition 
and cash prizes and airing on a network tel- 
evision show, 2. Include it in one or more 
interactive shows in New York City, 3. 
Include it in distribution across movie the- 
atres, DVD, web, television, cable, satellite 
or radio broadcast. Email a BRIEF DESCRIP- 
TION to us of your work: kate@machine 



dreams.com DO NOT SEND US YOUR 
WORK YET For more information call Kate 
Lawson at 612-371-4428 x11. 

SMOGDANCE, the Seventh Annual Pomona 
Film Festival, wants to see your cinematic 
statement. Our Smogdance '04 committee 
is already up and running. Contact us if you'd 
like to be a part of the Inland Empire's most 
exciting and eclectic film event. Submission 
Deadline: December 15, 2005 Festival Date: 
January 21, 2005 — January 23, 2005 
Smogdance '04. (909) 629-9797, FX: (909) 
629-8697, smogdance@hot mail.com. 

TIMEBASE is a curated exhibition of time- 
based media and art at Boley, an 8,000 sq ft. 
former bank in downtown Kansas City. 
Emphasis for 2006 May-June show is site- 
specific work and installation. Video, film, 
audio, installation, interactive art or perform- 
ance of any type also considered. Send CD, 
DVD, VHS, URL or detailed proposal with 
entry form (www.time-base.org) to: 
time:base, 5100 Rockhill Rd Haag 202, 
Kansas City MO 64110. Tel/816/235-1708; 
time-base@hotmail. 

THE WAVES Committee announces the call 
for entries for the 5th WAVES Asian/Asian 
American Film Festival, scheduled to run 
April 14th -April 16th, 2006. Filmmakers are 
encouraged to access comprehensive infor- 
mation and eligibility requirements and to 
complete the entry form online at the 
WAVES Web site, www.uiowa.edu/~waves. 
Discounted Deadline is 5pm CSX Tuesday, 
January 17 2006. Final deadline for entries is 
Friday, February 16th, 2006. Entry forms 
and eligibility requirements can also be 
requested by email, uiwaves@yahoo.com. 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 61 



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THANK YOU 



The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 
(AIVF) provides a wide range of programs and services 
for independent moving image makers and the media 
community, including The Independent and a series of 
resource publications, seminars and workshops, infor- 
mation services, and arts and media policy advocacy. 

None of this work would be possible without the 
generous support of the AIVF membership and the 
following organizations: 

We also wish to thank the following individuals and 
organizational members: 



H 

NYSCA 

O 

PBS 



Kodak 

Motion Picture film 



City of New York Dept. of Cultural Affairs 

Discovery Wines 

Experimental Television Center Ltd. 

Forest Creatures Entertainment, Inc. 

Home Box Office 

The Jewish Communal Fund 

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 

The Nathan Cummings Foundation 

The National Endowment for the Arts 

New York State Council on the Arts 

The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation 

PBS 

Yuengling Beer 

The Advertising Club 

Kodak 



BUSINESS/INDUSTRY MEMBERS: AL: Cypress Moon Productions; 
CA: SJPL Films, Ltd.; CO: CU Film Studies, Pay Reel; CT Anvil 
Production; FL: Charter Pictures Entertainment; IL: Shattering 
Paradigms Entertainment, LLC; MD: NewsGroup, Inc.; TLF 
Limited Management; Ml: Logic Media LLC; MS: Magnolia 
Independent Film Festival; NY: Entertainment Pro Insurance; 
Cypress Films; Deutsch/Open City Films; Docurama; Forest 
Creatures Entertainment; getcast.com; Larry Engel Productions 
Inc.; Lightworks Producing Group; Mad Mad Judy; Metropolis 
Film Lab; Missing Pixel; New School University; Off Ramp Films, 
Inc.; On the Prowl Productions; OVO; Production Central; Range 
Post; Robin Frank Management; Rockbottom Entertainment, LLC; 
Talent Solutions; The Outpost; Triune Pictures; United Spheres 
Production; VA: Karma Communications Film & Video; WA: Two 
Dogs Barking; 

NONPROFIT MEMBERS: AR: Henderson State University; 
CA: Bay Area Video Coalition; California Newsreel; Everyday 
Gandhis Project; NAATA/Media Fund; NALIP; USC School of 
Cinema and TV; CO: Denver Center Media; Free Speech TV: CT: 
Hartley Film Foundation; DC: CINE; Media Access; School of 
Communication, American University; FL: Miami International 
Film Festival; University of Tampa; HI: Pacific Islanders in 
Communications; IL: Community Television Network; Department 
of Communication/NLU; Kartemquin Films; IN: Fort Wayne 
Cinema Center; Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee; KY: Appalshop; 
MA: CCTV; Documentary Educational Resources; Harvard 
University, OsCLibrary; LTC; MD: Laurel Cable Network; 
Silverdocs: AFI Discovery Channel Doc Festival; ME: Maine 
Photographic Workshop; Ml: Ann Arbor Film Festival; MN: 
IFP/MSP; Walker Art Center; MO: dhTV; Webster University Film 
Series; NC: Broadcasting/Cinema; Working Films; NE: Nebraska 
Independent Film Project/AIVF Salon Lincoln; NJ: Black Maria Film 
Festival; Princeton University. Program in Visual Arts; University of 
New Mexico; NY: ActNow Productions; Arts Engine; Cornell 
Cinema; Council for Positive Images, Inc.; Creative Capital 
Foundation; Crowing Rooster Arts; Dutchess Community College 



Student Activites; Educational Video Center; Film Forum; Film 
Society of Lincoln Center; Firelight Media; International Film 
Seminars; LMC-TV; Manhattan Neighborhood Network; National 
Black Touring Circuit; National Black Programming Consortium; 
National Musuem of the American Indian; National Video 
Resources; New York University, Cinema Studies; New York 
Women in Film and Television; Parnassus Works; POV/The 
American Documentary; RIT School of Film and Animation, 
Squeaky Wheel; Stony Brook Film Festival; Syracuse University 
United Community Centers; Upstate Films, Ltd.; Witness 
Women Make Movies; OH: Athens Center for Film And Video 
Independent Pictures/AIVF Ohio Salon; OR: Media Arts, MHCC 
Northest Film Center; The Oregon Film & Video Foundation; PA 
American INSIGHT Inc.; TeamChildren.com; Rl: Flickers Arts 
Collaborative; SC: Department of Art, University of South 
Carolina; South Carolina Arts Commission; TX: Houston Film 
Commission; Southwest Alternate Media Project; Students of 
the World; University of Texas RTF; WA: Seattle Central 
Community College; Wl: UWM Dept. of film; Canada: 
Cinematheque Quebecoise Musee Du Cinema; France: The 
Carmago Foundation 

FRIENDS OF AIVF: Angela Alston, Sabina Maja Angel, Tom 
Basham, Aldo Bello, David Bemis, Doug Block, Liz Canner, Hugo 
Cassirer, Williams Cole, Anne del Castillo, Arthur Dong, Martin 
Edelstein, Esq., Aaron Edison, Paul Espinosa, Karen Freedman, 
Lucy Garrity, Norman Gendelman, Debra Granik, Catherine Gund, 
Peter Gunthel, David Haas, Kyle Henry, Lou Hernandez, Lisa 
Jackson, John Kavanaugh, Stan Konowitz, Leonard Kurz, Lyda Kuth, 
Steven Lawrence, Bart Lawson, Regge Life, Juan Mandelbaum, 
Diane Markrow, Tracy Mazza, Leonard McClure, Daphne McDuffie- 
Tucker, Jim McKay, Michele Meek, Robert Millis, Robert Millis, 
Richard Numeroff, Elizabeth Peters, Laura Poitras, Robert Richter, 
Hiroto Saito, Larry Sapadin, James Schamus, John Schmidt, Nat 
Segaloff, Robert Seigel, Gail Silva, Innes Smolansky, Barbara 
Sostaric, Alexander Spencer, Miriam Stern, George Stoney, Rhonda 
Leigh Tanzman, Rahdi Taylor, KarlTrappe, Jane Wagner, Bart Weiss 



January-February 2006 I The Independent 63 



THE LIST 



Coming Up Sho 




By Erica Berenstein 



You've been working for months, maybe years, on your script. 
You've re-written it 47 times. The denouement is perfect, the dialogue well-crafted. Is there any reason in 
the world that you might want to chop it up or slim it down? 
Are there any advantages to turning your 120-page screenplay into a seven-minute short? 



"Good question! I would have to say that the advantage 
would be a good test to see if your stripped down, key ingredi- 
ents are there, and secondly that the arc is tangible and as strong 
as it can be, and most importantly, that you have a central 
theme that can be executed in a micro (short) or macro (feature- 
length) presentation." 

— Renji Philip, writer-director, 
An American Dream 

"Learning about economy in dialog." 

— Tom Hopkins, filmmaker 

"I could cut out all the crap I only put in there to raise money 
for the project in the first place, get rid of the dramatic love tri- 
angle situation I didn't really care for and focus on the elements 
that were important to me when I first began working on the 
screenplay. Also, I don't have to give a flying furby for the nar- 
rative structure. I can take delight in atomizing the little narra- 
tive elements that were in there and arrange the little story there 
now in ways that will bring famine and disease, not to mention 
the insanity, to the innocent viewer... (shall I really go on?)" 

— Thorsten Fleisch, filmmaker 

"You make shorts not for some advantage — you make them 
because you can't help it." 

— Signe Baumane, director, Dentist 

"You get to make it." 

— Jason Feuerstein, co-writer/producer, Happy 



"Usually everybody else is trying to do the opposite, which 
turns into disasters. ..most of the time. If you have a good 120- 
minute script, why should you not get it produced and make a 
fortune? If it sucks as an 120-minute version, you got the 
biggest advantage right there: saving you the time and hassle of 
a feature film production, saving your parents/grandparents a 
lot of bucks, keeping the audience from boredom with a hope- 
fully entertaining short film that finds and tells the essence of 
your feature script. Another advantage: in short films: you can 
do things you would never be allowed to do in a 120-minute 
film. That's what makes shorts so special. It's a whole new 
world." 

— Holger Ernst, writer/director, Little Fish, Rain is Falling, 

The House is Burning 

"We did not have the money or human resources to make a 
great feature. Young directors and producers overstep their 
bounds making first features and wind up not delivering. People 
think the money is not that much different, so why not make a 
feature? But when long scenes need to develop and your actors 
are mediocre, your movie falls apart. Or we forget that people 
get annoyed with hand-held DV-cam for two hours. We played 
the best talents of our limited cast and crew. 

Also, most independent films are about 90 minutes too long 
to begin with. And a strong short can go almost every place a 
feature can go. We're playing TV and theatrical all over the 
world and have made almost all our money back." 

— Keith Bearden, director, The Raftman's Razor 



64 The Independent I January-February 2006 



11th Annual 




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festival 

July 20-29, 2006 



CALL FOR ENTRIES 

Entry Deadline May 1, 2006 

www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com 

filmfestival@stonybrookfilmfestival.com 

631.632.7235 



VON 



ith Filmmakers 













"Everyone who gets 
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Thinking all digital video tape is the same is the old approach. Sundance Film Festival' award-winning 
director Rebecca Cammisa has a new way of thinking. 

Cammisa is documenting the plight of Latin American children looking to reunite with parents residing in 
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4 AIVF BOARD LETTER 

5 EDITOR'S LETTER 

6 CONTRIBUTORS 

7 ON DVD 

Reviews of films now available on DVD 
By Shana Liebman 

9 NEWS 

WAM! 2006, IFC in the classroom, 
Hollywood's ails, and how to save your film 

By Erica Berenstein, Nicole Davis, 

&: Katherine Dykstra 

13 DOC DOCTOR 

When and how to tell your cast you're 
pregnant. Is there a place for children on set? 
By Fernanda Rossi 

15 PRODUCTION JOURNAL 

How one filmmaker negotiated 
filming in Bolivia 

By Rachel Boynton 

19 PROFILE 

Filmmaker Deepa Mehta isn't afraid 
to make waves 

By Sarah Coleman 

23 ON THE SCENE 

Inspiration descends on the 2005 Muse Awards 
By S.T. Van Airsdale 



25Q/A 

Rosario Dawson and Talia Lugacy on how 
they got Trybe Films off the ground 
By Katherine Dykstra 

44 FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 

National Geographic's All Roads Film Festival 
reaches out to indigenous filmmakers 
By Simone Swink 

44 BOOK REVIEW 

Revolutionary: Jonathan Krane's film industry fix 
By Ethan Alter 



Features 



28 GUYS ON GIRLS ON FILM 

Cheers to five of 2005's male filmmakers who 
created meaty roles for women 
By Elizabeth Angell 

31 HOTVLOG! 

Meet the female pioneers of the next big 
web thing 

By Danielle DiGiacomo 

35 HELPING THEMSELVES 

Women's organizations fill the void between 
where women are and where they should be 
By Erica Berenstein 



Listings 

46 FESTIVALS 

54 WORK WANTED 

55 CLASSIFIEDS 
57 NOTICES 

63 THANKS 

64 THE LIST 



March 2006 ! The Independent 3 



^3 M L' I 'il'l M 



lobal, 
btal 
verage! 



An Open Letter to the AIVF Community from 
the Board of Directors 




Pay only $168 for 52 issues* of 
Variety and with your subscription 
you will receive 24/7 access to 
Variety.com 

To take advantage of this offer 
call: 

1-800-323-4345 

and mention The Independent. 

(new subscriptions only) 
* Including regular and special issues 



Dear AIVF members, Independent readers, 
and other supporters: 

AIVF is regrouping and transforming in the 
months ahead with the leadership of a transi- 
tional Board of Directors and a reorganized 
staff. Guided by a recent organizational assess- 
ment that included extensive member feedback, 
the Board met in early January to begin chart- 
ing a course for the future. We invite you to join 
in this process of change. 

In short, we want AIVF to become more rel- 
evant and responsive to the needs of independ- 
ent media makers — our current and future 
members — as they navigate the obstacle course 
of film financing, distribution, and changing 
technology. We have heard from our members 
(more than 500 of you!) that there is a need for 
AIVF to continue as a supporter and advocate 
for independent filmmakers but that the organ- 
ization must change. With diminished finances 
and an unsustainable operational model, the 
need for change is clear to the AIVF Board and 
staff as well. 

With the likelihood of a forced shutdown 
imminent, the Board took steps in January 
including a reduction in staff and programs and 
a change in staff leadership. We have embarked 
on a transition period focused on the following 
activities: 

— Continuing conversations with members 
(including those who participated in our recent 
survey and others) to help AIVF re-envision 
programming and services. 

— Creating a business plan to maximize 
earned income, including opportunities to re- 
imagine the Independent magazine and 
web/online tools. 

— Launching new fundraising activities to 
rebuild and update the organization by reaching 
out to members and other supporters in the 
short-term, while also growing our fundraising 
systems for the long-term. 

— Strengthening AIVF's IT infrastructure 
and financial management capacity. 

— Continuing to develop a future-focused 
Board that draws strength from AIVF's rich his- 
tory and is able to lead AIVF in a much- 
changed world. 

— The Independent, both online and in print, 
will continue as the voice of the independent 
field and a point of connection for our com- 
munity. We are confident that with the new 
leadership of Editor Shana Liebman, you will 



find a strong resource for news, analysis, and 
advocacy on issues that impact your independ- 
ence. In the months ahead the Board is commit- 
ted to working with the staff and our members to 
increase The Independent's resources and reach. 

The vision AIVF is working towards 
includes: 

— Serving as the "go to" information 
resource for independents. AIVF will continue 
its commitment to providing value-added 
information that is framed and relevant to the 
needs of independents — from emerging to 
experienced artists. 

— Fostering community. AIVF will cultivate 
vibrant virtual and actual communities among 
independent media makers, working with 
members and partners to create networking and 
peer learning opportunities. 

— Strengthening the advocacy voice of inde- 
pendents. AIVF will update and amplify its 
approach to advocacy. 

— Becoming truly national in scope: AIVF 
will become a truly national organization 
through re-imagining services and program- 
ming. 

Join us in re-envisioning and rebuilding 
AIVF! We thank those who have already joined 
in this effort. 

Yours in independence, 

The AIVF Transitional Board of Directors 

Paula Manley, Co-Chair 

Elizabeth Thompson, Co-Chair 

Robert West, Treasurer 

Bart Weiss, President 

Richard Saiz, Board Member 

Jon Marcus, Board Member 

How you can help 

Continue your AIVF membership and make 
an additional financial contribution if possible. 
Donate online at www.aivf.org or send your 
check to: AIVF, 304 Hudson St. 6th Floor, New 
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Encourage other independent media makers 
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Join the newly formed filmmakers commit- 
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4 The Independent I March 2006 




9) 
O 



o 
'-a 



EDITOR'S LETTER 



Dear Readers, 

On my first day at Sundance, I caught an 
1 1:30 am screening of Half Nelson, then wan- 
dered over to a cheap Mexican joint to eat 
lunch. Halfway through my chicken burrito, 
two women approached and asked if they 
could share my table. I somewhat reluctantly 
moved my hot sauce to make room. By the 
end of the meal, however, I had learned more 
from these two filmmakers than I would in a 
week at the office. 

That pretty much sums up my five days at 
Sundance — inspiring, educational, eye-open- 
ing. Though I have to admit that I was 
immensely glad when the festival ended. Not 
that I didn't enjoy seeing some truly great 
films or the fact that cocktail hour was any — 
make that every — hour, but after being 
immersed in a such a vigorous and intelligent 
community, I was — well, exhausted, yes — but 
more importantly, eager to get back to work. 
I had a notebook full of article ideas and for 
the first time in a couple months of minor 
turmoil at AIVF, I was certain that there was 
enough love, enough need, lor us out there — 
that we should and would be getting on with it. 

So here we are, and it seems somehow fit- 
ting that this is the women's issue: Despite or 
perhaps because of the struggle surrounding 
it, it turned into a damn good issue. 

Doc-maker Rachel Boynton (Our Brand Is 
Crisis) writes about her breath-taking experi- 
ence in Bolivia, following James Carville and 
other American political strategists in their 
campaign to get Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada 
elected as president. Contributing writer 
Sarah Coleman talked to the awesome Deepa 
Mehta about why her films have inspired 



death threats and riots in India, and why her 
new film, Water, about Hindu widows, won't 
wreak any less havoc. We sent "The Reeler," 
S.T. Van Airsdale, to schmooze it up at the 
New York Women in Film and Television's 
25th awards ceremony, and our fabulous new 
senior editor, Katherine Dykstra, spent a cold 
December morning on the set of Descent, 
chatting with Rosario Dawson and her pro- 
duction company partner and good friend, 
Talia Lugacy. Simone Swink reviews National 
Geographies All Roads Festival, the only fest 
to showcase only indigenous films, and 
Jonathan Krane's plan for fixing the 
moviemaking industry, which he outlines in a 
new book, is thoughtfully critiqued by Ethan 
Alter. 

2005 may have been the year of the 
masculine movie, but a few outstanding men 
produced some compelling and well-con- 
ceived female characters. Elizabeth Angell 
talked to these guys about writing the other 
gender. Vlogging guru Danielle DiGiacomo 
gives us a glimpse into the video blogging 
scene and its pioneers — most of whom, inter- 
estingly, are women. And Editorial Associate 
Erica Berenstein takes stock of how far we've 
come — are women's-only organizations still 
necessary in the independent film world? 

Finally, I want to both introduce and thank 
the super talented and tireless Independent 
team: Katherine Dykstra, Erica Berenstein, 
graphic associate-extraordinaire Tim Schmidt, 
and the savvy Ben Brown — who, as you will 
see, brilliantly redesigned these pages with an 
appropriately fresh look. 

Thank you also to the ever-impressive 
Rebecca Carroll, who we're very excited to 
keep in the loop as editor-at-large, for gra- 
ciously tossing me the reigns. I'm thrilled to 
be here. And although this magazine has been 
around for over 30 years, I still want to hear 
any and all feedback you've got. Honestly, it's 
the only way we're going to make some 
progress. 

Enjoy, and thanks for reading 

The Independent, 

Shana Liebman 

Editor-in-Chief 




Editor-in-Chief: Shana Liebman 

[editor@aivf.org] 

Senior Editor: Katherine Dykstra 

[kathcrinc@aivf.org] 

Editorial Associate: Erica Berenstein 

[noticcs@aivr.org] 

Designer: R. Benjamin Brown 

[benbrowngraphic@msn.com] 

Production Associate: Timothy Schmidt 

[graphics@aivf.org] 

Editor-at-Large: Rebecca Carroll 

[indie.carrolI@gmail.com] 

Contributing Editors: 

Sherman Alexie, David Aim, Pat Aufderheide, 

Bo Mehrad, Cara Merles, Joshua Neuman, Sean Shodahl 

Contributing Writers: 

Elizabeth Angell, Sarah Coleman, Lisa Selin Davis, 

Nicole Davis, Matt Dunne, Rick Harrison 

Advertising Representative: Veronica Shea 

(212) 80" 7 - 1400x232; [veronica@aivf.org] 

Advertising Representative: Michael Tierno 

(212) 80^-1400 x234; [mike@aivf.org] 

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(212) 807-1400 x241; [classifieds@aivf.org] 

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Publication of any ad in The Independent does not constitute an 
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Member 

© Foundation for Independent Video & Film, Inc. 2006 
Visit The Independent online at: www.aivf.org 



March 2006 I The Independent 5 



CONTRIBUTORS 





R. BENJAMIN BROWN, The 
Independent % designer, works freelance 
out of Brooklyn on editorial and other 
print-based projects. He also produces 
electronic music and aspires — hopeful- 
ly sooner rather than later — to get his 
work released. 



SARAH COLEMAN writes about 
photography, film, and books for various 
publications. She is books editor of 
Planet magazine and editor of Olympus 
VisionAge, a sponsored photography site 
on Photo District News online. 



ST. VAN AIRSDALE is the editor of 
The Reeler, a New York City film news 
and gossip blog featured on Movie City 
News. He lives in Manhattan. 






DAN HALLMAN, who shot the 
cover, is a New York City-based 
photographer, who keeps busy shooting 
for various magazines and advertising 
campaigns (and traveling the globe 
with his partner, Mario). His current 
forcus is celebrity portraiture, like his 
most recent subjects Meg Ryan and the 
Dalai Lama. 



DANIELLE DIGIACOMO is a 
documentary filmmaker and freelance 
writer based in Brooklyn. She is currently 
finishing her first doc feature, Island to 
bland: Returning Home from Rikers, about 
two men reintegrating into society after 
jail. She has written for Muze.com, Film 
i the City, Kirkus Reviews, and Travel 
'vy, and is a consultant for Indiepix.net. 



ETHAN ALTER is a New York-based 
film critic and journalist whose work has 
appeared in a variety of publications, 
including Entertainment Weekly, TV 
Guide, and FHM. He regularly reviews 
movies for Film Journal Internatiomal 
and Cineman Syndicate, as well as on his 
website, www.nycfilmcritic.com. 



6 The Independent I March 2006 




$r Normnee ^ 

v Academy Award* 

>J 8** Documentary Short 2003 



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T&e Collector of Bedford Street, New Day 
Films, www.newday.com 

The Hollywood Reporter called this "the feel 
good movie of the year" when it was nominat- 
ed for an Oscar for best documentary short in 
2003. Although that kind of generic exuber- 
ance — especially for a film about a mentally 
retarded person — usually makes me skeptical, 
Alice Elliot's 40-minute film is really a pleas- 
ure. Larry is a 60-something man with the IQ 
of a small child who lives in Manhattan's West 
Village. His "job," collecting donations from 
random civilians for various charitable causes, 
is refreshingly noble and also a little ironic 
since Larry himself is in desperate need of 




The Lost Tribe 

fcx-M'. ■ ■■■ .-,.; <t,orking 

fiwiivt'tytit losttribr . altLat ' /,Utah 



some care. Aside from his 80-year-old uncle, 
who comes over every day to help Larry clean, 
cook, and process, and his beloved pets, there 
is no one to help this gentle man cope. Larry 
becomes suicidal and when he starts inviting 
homeless men over to keep him company, the 
co-op board of his building finally takes 
action — finding, organizing, and funding an 
assisted living service for him. Elliot kindly 
and intelligently observes Larry's journey, 
managing to let us both feel for him and 
chuckle without guilt at his goofy, neurotic 
behavior. 

The Lost Tribe, Women Make Movies, 
www.wmm.com 

Ex-Mormon lesbian stand-up comic makes 
a shocking discovery in Utah. Who wouldn't 
pop in that DVD? Sue Ann, an engagingly 
self-deprecating and somewhat funny comic 
who was recently excommunicated from the 
church after she condemned her religion on a 
national talk show, is invited to be the keynote 
speaker at a gathering of gay and lesbian 
Mormons in Salt Lake City. She accepts, but 
her return home proves more difficult than she 
anticipated. Memories of her confusing child- 
hood flood back, but more interestingly, she 
realizes she misses the family that shunned her. 
We follow Sue Ann's trip from beginning to 
end, watch her laugh and cry. It's moving at 
times, though ultimately the film lacks drama 
aside from Sue Ann's emotions. We don't real- 
ly travel out of this isolated experience — and 
despite the build-up, hanging out with gay 
Mormons just isn't all that thrilling. 

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, 
Docurama, www.docurama.com 

A few exceptional recent releases — Grizzly 
Man, March of the Penguins, Winged 
Migration — have made me rethink my long- 
standing aversion to nature films. The Wild 
Parrots of Telegraph Hill, however, does noth- 
ing for that case. Mark Bittner, a hippie musi- 
cian living in San Francisco, has become the 
self-appointed caretaker of a group of very 
beautiful and charming parrots who live in the 
trees in front of his cottage. He talks to them 
(they all have names), he thinks about them 
(which ones are dating or fighting or sad) and 
he nourishes them. He feels strongly about 



March 2006 I The Independent 7 



EMY AWARD WINNER 



T0P1 



romance, comedy, i 
surprise wtdMsntftmi 





Winner Best Documentary 



Narrated by Fd Asne 



these rare parrots — he has become a bit of 
celebrity' for his parrot-care, is articulate and 
intelligent about their needs, behavior, and 
lifestyle — and we do get a sense of how one 
could be drawn in by these expressive birds. 
But unlike Winged Migration, in which we get 
to see the world from the bird's point of view 
or at least to observe a common creature from 
an unusual perspective, this film is more 
about Mark than the parrots. The turning 
point, when Mark is forced to move away 
from his birds, is overly melodramatic, and 
the surprise end, though sweet, confirms the 
overall sappiness of this adventure. 

Missing, Presumed Dead: The Search for 
America's POWs, Choices Video Inc, 
www.choicesvideo.net 

For the last 50 years. Veteran Bob Dumas 
has been searching for his brother Roger who 



was captured in North Korea. Bob believes his 
brother may actually still be alive and that the 
US gave up on Roger and many other missing 
POWs during the war. Dumas's political cru- 
sade is chronicled in this film — including his 
own presentations to government officials, 
footage of the senate hearings about missing 
POVs, and interviews with Bob and other 
vets. Were there really hundreds of American 
soldiers left behind? Did the government 
make a concerted effort to hide evidence of 
their disappearances? It's a provocative propo- 
sition and timely considering activity in Iraq. 
But it's hard to believe that Dumas's argument 
is totally sound. At the very end of this film it 
becomes clear this documentary is really one 
man's lifelong project, and that the politics 
and assertions made throughout are therefore 
somewhat questionable. 



WIjo Are the Debolts?, Docurama, 
www.docurama.com 

This documentary is about a family who 
adopts 19 children — all disadvantaged or 
handicapped. It's an odd circus that is 
immensely watchable, but the film was made 
in the 70s and although 30 years ago it must 
have seemed radically revealing, the fatherly 
voiceover and frequent shots of happy 
moments now make it feel like propaganda or 
a child services video. Some kids are blind or 
have lost limbs or don't speak English, but 
they all engage in good old American fun. 
They share chores, go on vacation, and walk 
to school together. The best parts of this DVD 
are the extra features: family updates and 
reports from the future. After so much hokey- 
ness, it's heartening to hear some real stories 
about how these kids grew up and into the 
world. * 



8 The Inuependc 



March 2006 




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news 



WAMf 

By Erica Berenstein 

"Why do we have to spend so 
much time talking about these 
whiny women, again? Why can't 
we focus on new, more pressing 
issues?" This is the media's typi- 
cal reaction to progressive 
women's voices, according to 
Jennifer Pozner, founding direc- 
tor of the media analysis, educa- 
tion, and advocacy organization, 
Women in Media & News 
(WIMN). "Well," Pozner 
answers, "because these issues are 
still pressing... women had about 
five minutes of attention spent 
on us culturally in this country 
and then all of a sudden we're 
supposed to have won all of our 
battles." 

One of the organizations that 
came out of those five minutes in 
the '70s was the Center for New 
Words, a project that aims to use 
"the word cycle" — literary writ- 
ing, blogging, filmmaking, and 
journalism — to strengthen pro- 
gressive women's voices. New 
Words, which opened in 1974, 
was the oldest continuously 
operating women's bookstore in 
the US until it closed its doors in 
2002. But unlike the many inde- 
pendent bookstores that fold in 
the face of mega chains, New 
Words was able to survive by 
transforming into a nonprofit lit- 
erary, educational, and cultural 
center, which is now gearing up 
for its third annual conference. 

Women, Action & Media 
2006 (WAM!), which will run 



WOMEN, ACTION & MEDIA 2006 




WAM! 2006s keynote speaker Maria Hinojosa laments that despite 
more women in positions of power, few women run networks. 



from March 31 through April 2 
at MIT's Stata Center, will 
include panels such as 
"Establishing the Voice and Story 
of Young Women of Color in 
Film" and "Start Your Own Blog 
in 90 Minutes," as well as discus- 
sions led by Pozner, filmmaker 
Elisha Miranda, and a mix of 
other activists and media makers. 



Pozner, who has taken part in all 
three New Words conferences, 
believes that the WAM! confer- 
ence is unique because it shows 
women how activists and media 
makers can work together to 
encourage social change. 

"These issues are not going to 
be solved overnight," says 
Pozner, but the value of the con- 



ference lies in its ability to bring 
together people in media mak- 
ing and feminist/activist organi- 
zations. At last year's conference, 
Pozner met several women who 
publish progressive magazines 
such as Punk Planet. Not long 
after, these women were facilitat- 
ing the only women's caucus at 
the National Conference for 
Media Reform. 

WAM! 2006's keynote speak- 
er Maria Hinojosa, author, sen- 
ior correspondent for "NOW" 
on PBS, and host of NPR's 
"Latino USA," believes that, "we 
are in a moment of evolution in 
terms of media... past the voice- 
of-god anchor," and, "almost 
past the 24-hour news network." 
But despite the fact that there 
are more women in positions of 
power, few women run net- 
works. And although networks 
want female viewers, "people 
misinterpret what female viewers 
want to see. . . social drama [and] 
girls being anorexic, I think that 
comes from a very male-centered 
place." 

Hinojosa says that the hardest 
part of addressing issues of women 
in the media is that when talking 
about sexism, it is impossible to 
say, "'Oh! I experienced it! OK, 
there we go!'" Issues of sexism, she 
says, "are much more subtle than 
anybody quite understands." 
Hinojosa believes that one of the 
most productive ways to face these 
issues is to share stories. 



March 2006 I The Independent 9 



Pozner agrees. Her most 
memorable moment at last year's 
conference took place at the 
Howard Johnson where she 
stayed. Pozner, Elaine Lafferry 
(then editor-in-chief of Ms. mag- 
azine), Christine Cobialo (online 
editor of Ms.), and Lisa Jervis 
(co-founder of Bitch) were, "just 
sitting there talking shop and 
stories about our work and what 
we want to accomplish togeth- 
er... at a hotel bar in the middle 
of the night." 

Rad 
Education 

By Erica Berenstein 

Unit 1: Lesson 1 

Objective: To get cam- 
eras into students' 
hands and to get 
them excited about making 
movies. Materials: Video cam- 
eras, Shakespearean soliloquy. 

In the essay "The Magic of 
Images: Word and Picture in a 
Media Age," social critic Camille 
Paglia laments, "Education has 
failed to adjust to the massive 
transformation in Western cul- 
ture since the rise of electronic 
media." That sentiment hit 
home for Kathy Houspian, a 
teacher in Ohio, who just started 
using IFC Film School — a new 
curriculum for high school 
English students developed by 
the Independent Film Channel 
in partnership with Topics 
Education, a PR firm that helps 
organizations reach out to the 
education community. The cur- 
riculum is composed of six units 
that allow English teachers to 
incorporate film analysis and film 
production into their lessons. 

Houspian says she is a firm 
believer in using all types of 
media in the classroom, because, 



"it all leads back to storytelling." 
She values the way the Film 
School curriculum intellectually 
engages her students and how it 
forces them to analyze what they 
watch, "because they can't just 
sit there with their mouth open 
and watch it. They have to think 
about what is on the screen, and 
why it was put on the screen, and 
how it influences you as a watch- 
er." 



Gatsby. "Everything you are 
doing," she says excitedly, "is 
exactly what an English teacher 
wants a kid to do with a 
story. ..you're trying to get the 
kids to analyze what they see in 
front of them." And according to 
Houspian and the creators of the 
program, film — sexier than a text 
book — often engages students 
who may not participate in tradi- 



These clips were produced by 
IFC partner Ghetto Film School 
located in the Bronx, which has 
been teaching filmmaking to 
high school students since June 
2000. Joe Hall, president of 
GFS, has seen the way filmmak- 
ing and cinema motivates kids 
and gives them an appreciation 
of film as an art form, as well as 
an understanding of business 




IFC hopes Film School will be 
accessible "to a teacher who has 
never picked up a camera, or 
who has only been to films at the 
local multiplex," says Evan 
Fleischer, IFC's director of mar- 
keting and promotions as well as 
the man in charge of this initia- 
tive. The lesson plans are avail- 
able online and can be used as a 
whole or in parts. Books and 
films suggested by the curricu- 
lum can be substituted with ones 
that specifically address a given 
class's agenda. For example, 
Houspian is adapting lesson one, 
which uses a Shakespearean solil- 
oquy, to fit her American litera- 
ture class's study of The Great 



tional lessons. The essential goals 
of the program are to establish 
the link between film and litera- 
ture, and to expose students to 
film as a legitimate academic 
subject. Other units also include 
shooting and writing, and the last 
unit is dedicated to production. 

One of the most dynamic 
components of the website, 
which has sections for both 
teachers and students, is the 
Multimedia Glossary. This dic- 
tionary of film terms includes 
everything from "adaptation" to 
"zoom shot," though the most 
impressive entries are those that 
are accompanied by short clips 
that illustrate the concepts. 



through programs such as GFS's 
student-run media company, 
Digital Bodega. Teaching film, 
he says, inspires kids to use their 
imagination and to produce their 
own work in ways that other out- 
reach programs don't. IFC helps 
teachers prepare their students 
for a world that is increasingly 
dominated by the production, 
interpretation, and dissemina- 
tion of information through 
visual media. 

Film School can be downloaded 
at www3. ifctv. com/filmschool. 



10 The Independent I March 2006 



Hollywood on the Dole 



By Nicole Davis 

Hollywood may be losing points out that the success of Tonight' view of people in film the film's cost, 

its talent pool to... cable TV shows like "The L and television," he says. We "That was the difference 

Albuquerque. A recent Word" and "Entourage," as well tend to see them as rich and fab- between development hell and a 

report published by the Los as original programming from ulous, not eking out a modest green light. That's amazing," he 

Angeles County Economic networks like the Sci-Fi Channel living as the majority of a film's told the Times. New Orleans 

Development Corporation and A&E have made television workforce — including every- didn't make out so poorly, 

(LAEDC) forecasts that 2006 the darling of Hollywood's bleak one from its production crews either. Before Katrina, it had 




will mean "curtains for jobs" in 
Tinsel Town. 

Not only did last year see box- 
office sales slump, but DVD sales, 
once a beacon of hope after a lack- 
luster theatrical run, are down as 
well. And to make matters 
worse — or more fair, depending 
which side you're on — unions like 
the Screen Actors Guild want a 
bigger cut of DVD profits, which 
have dropped in part because of 
cable TV's video on demand serv- 
ices. (Video on demand, however, 
has been a boon for independent 
and foreign filmmakers, exposing 
home audiences to films that 
weren't able to secure major distri- 
bution.) 

The 20-page report also 



economic picture. The big 
unknown, however, is how 
offering these same shows (and 
movies) via personal media 
devices, like the iPod with 
video, will affect the studios. 
"New ways of delivering content 
mean new markets, but also 
increased risk of piracy," the 
report hedges. 

With tentative forecasts like 
these, it's hard to believe the dire 
straits the report predicts for 
film and television jobs in 
Hollywood. But as its author, 
LAEDC's chief economist Jack 
Kyser, points out, part of the 
problem lies with our percep- 
tion of the industry. "People 
tend to have an 'Entertainment 



to its craft service — actually 
does. 

Since California isn't catering 
to these lower-paid workers, 
many are finding film work in 
places like Toronto, New York, 
and (for a while) New Orleans. 
As the LA Times reported this 
past summer (and the Defamer 
picked up soon after with a post 
titled "New Orleans is the New 
Hollywood"), the city gave the 
producer of Big Momma's House 
(2000) two tax incentives to 
film in the Big Easy. The movie 
may not be Oscar material, but 
the money is nothing to sneeze 
at. By coming to Louisiana, pro- 
ducer David T Friendly said he 
trimmed roughly 17 percent off 



been ^attracting more and more 
actors and actresses, who, incredi- 
bly, found it easier to find film 
work in New Orleans than in 
Hollywood. The storm wrecked 
New Orleans' newfound money- 
maker, but the idea that 
moviemaking can create ancillary 
jobs and revenue streams hasn't 
been lost on towns like 
Albuquerque, which is planning 
to build a $60 million dollar facil- 
ity for film, TV, and digital media 
production. And New York, 
where the new Steiner Studios 
have endowed the city with the 
largest studio system east of Los 
Angeles, is already giving 
Hollywood a run for its jobs. 
"It's a huge operation," agrees 



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the dean of New York University's film 
school, Sheril Antonio, who also attributes 
the city's increased TV production to the 
addition of Silvercup Studios a few years ago. 
As a result of both, she says, "I think it will 
be a lot easier for young filmmakers to sur- 
vive in New York. They won't have to go to 
another coast for entry-level experience as 
DPs and camera grips." 

Ironically, the potential revenue and job 
creation that comes from a film that's shot in 
vour backyard has been lost on Hollywood. 

"There is no tax incentive for filmmakers 
in California, not for big or low-budget 
films," says Kyser. The California state con- 
gress voted down a $100 million dollar 
incentive package for low-budget films last 
year, in part because they couldn't see the 
point in subsidizing what seemed to be a per- 
fectly prosperous business. (Again, Kyser 
blames "Entertainment Tonight" for cloud- 
ing their vision.) Still, the LAEDC discov- 
ered that by the end of 2005, LA County's 
film and video industry had already lost 
15,300, or 10 percent of its jobs. This year, 
The Governator proposed an incentive pack- 
age worth $75 million, but the bill's future — 
like Hollywood's — is uncertain. 

Movie SOS 

By Katherine Dykstra 

The film is in the can and you're head- 
ed into post when wham! You find 
yourself completely out of scratch. 
Though disheartening, this scene is not an 
uncommon one. 

"There are quite a few films that run out 
of money for whatever reason. The funding 
promises dry up, or there are disputes among 
the people, artistic or otherwise. Sometimes 
there's bad management. Sometimes they 
underestimate what it costs to finish a film," 
says Mel Klein, the CEO of Avondale Film 
and Television, a venture created to catch 
films that fall into just these scenarios. "It 
occurred to me and to the others that not 
only is this situation far more common than 
we assumed, but the films in financial trouble 



tend to have additional trouble getting out 
of the ditch even if the film's been finished. 
You don't have marketing money, you don't 
have the ability to bring it out on a firm foot, 
and that's where the idea of rescuing the film 
and bringing it to market came to mind." 

Debuted at this year's Sundance Film 
Festival, Avondale Film and Television has 
committed itself via Unfinishedfilms.com to 
tending to the completion and disttibution 
needs of "financially troubled' films. 

The process begins on the website, where 
filmmakers fill out a lengthy questionnaire 
created to determine, among other things, 
whether the film meets the target budget (in 
the $1.5 to $3 million range) and comple- 
tion need (under $500,000). 

"The film has to be substantially along its 
way in photography — we'd like it to be two 
thirds to three fourths complete," says Klein. 
"We're not looking at films that need 80 per- 
cent of their financing, we're looking for 
films that have 80 percent and need that last 
little bit. We're looking for films that are big- 
ger than three guys and a credit card, but too 
small to have a completion bond and a sub- 
stantial budget." 

Once acquired, the company sets up a 
brand new LLC, with no entanglements, "no 
history," for the film and then unleashes its 
team of "top producers, experienced enter- 
tainment attorneys, distributors, marketing 
and public relations experts, financial man- 
agers and accountants," which include 
Jonathan Sanger, (producer; Vanilla Sky, The 
Elephant Man, The Producers), Bob Presner, 
the retired president of Film Finances 
Canada, Ed Elbert, film marketing sttategist 
and producer {Anna and the King), and 
Hollywood and Nashville fund managers 
Gudvi Sussman and Oppenheim. All with 
the goal of bringing the film over the finish 
line. 

Which is where, exactly? 

"Some films we will find a distributor for, 
some will go straight to video, but we are 
looking for films with theatrical legs," says 
Klein. * 



12 The Independent I March 2006 




Ask the Documentary Doctor 

By Fernanda Rossi 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

I'm a cinematographer, and I just found out that I'm 
pregnant. Should I tell people? I can't afford to lose any 
jobs right now. 

Pregnant or not, people will make decisions about what 
you can or can't do. Camera work, because it is an especial- 
ly physical job, often requires women — petite, pregnant, or 
otherwise — to prove their strength with that initial bone- 
crashing handshake. 

It's interesting that while pregnant women fear they will 
get less work if they announce their pregnancy, dads-to-be 
tend to approach the situation with full conviction that 
they must and will work more. We tacitly agree and coop- 
erate with those men, who now — we assume — have more 
responsibility. At the same time, we want moms-to-be to 
maintain some sort of calm bliss while they wait for the 
birth of their baby. But what if work is a necessary factor 
for that bliss? 

Lynn Weissman, a freelance camera-person and the pro- 
ducer-director of the documentary-in-progress, SUV, Mori 
Amour: An American Love Story, got pregnant in her early 
40s with identical twins. "What to do when you are a preg- 
nant shooter is uncharted territory," she says. "Who are my 
role models? I generally did not tell new clients until it was 
obvious. Privacy aside, I worried that people might not hire 




me if they consid- 
ered pregnancy a 
limitation; it's hard 
enough to be female 
and a shooter But 
looking back, maybe 
I could have been 
more candid. I did 
tell the crew in case 
something hap- 

pened. I also hired 
an assistant when it 
became necessary. 
My pregnancy gave me a hernia, and I couldn't carry heavy 
things in my later months." 

When asked why she kept working, Lynn answered, 
"First, I needed to save money. Second of all, on principle. 
My bubby liked to say, 'Pregnancy isn't a disease!' And, par- 
adoxically, work helped me take my mind off my bodily 
woes." 

Of course, each specific situation warrants a different 
tactic. But in general, I would remind those who are reluc- 
tant to work with expecting women that they weren't born 
out of spontaneous combustion. Sometimes reframing a 
situation makes us all a bit more understanding. 



March 2006 I The Independent 13 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

Nannies are starting to cost me as much 
as a day of production. What's your stance 
on bringing kids to a shoot? 

In my many years of going over budgets as 
a grant reader, I have yet to see a line item 
called "Nannies," so I have to assume that 
women pay for nannies on their own, recruit 
family members to help them, bring their 
kids to the shoot, or do all of the above. 

People often ask me if they can bring their 
kids or grandma to a consultation, or if there 
is a place at the workshop facility where they 
can nurse, or if youngsters can play in the 
background while I give a lecture. I always 
say yes, and call the organizer to help facili- 
tate whatever is necessary. If I were involved 
in a shoot, I would do exactly the same 
thing. And like me, many others agree that a 
kid around is better than a stressed-out 
director-mom. 



Many things need to be considered before 
dragging your offspring to a shoot — includ- 
ing the child's age and personality, as well as 
the type of shoot. Some kids might prefer to 
sit in a corner with a book, but those kids 
who become restless if they are not part of 
the main action need to be given a title and 
a task within the crew. (P.A. might be an 
unappealing position for an aspiring director 
but it can be an honorable gig for a preteen.) 
Producer Frances Lausell from Isla Films 
says, "My daughter Francesca worked as a 
P.A. when she was 1 1 . She took her job very 
seriously, keeping quiet when it was neces- 
sary and helping around with whatever was 
necessary. It was very important for both of 
us to share what I do. My husband was also 
instrumental in supporting that process, 
bringing her to the set on weekends." 

Adults can benefit from having kids 
around. First of all, people naturally avoid 



strong language around kids, which brings 
down the overall level of stress. I also noticed 
a sort of shared responsibility among the 
crew. That paternal/maternal or master 
instinct kicks in when young apprentices are 
eager to learn and help. 

Ask your crew for ideas on how to handle 
the shoot. After all, expensive nannies will 
eventually cost them fees or shooting days! 
And ask your kids, too. As you probably 
already know, kids can often offer original 
answers when asked to solve an interesting 
problem. ~k 



Fernanda Rossi is a filmmaker and story 
consultant, author of Trailer Mechanics: A 
Guide to Making Your Documentary 
Fundraising Trailer. 




Hee 




en 



International Film F < 



Festival Dates 

March 23-26, 

2006 



For more info please visit 

www.rwiff.com 

or call (818) 749-6162 



14 The Independent I March 2006 



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Her Bra nd ofjjilmmaking 

:gotiates Bolivia 





By Rachel Boynton 

Rachel Boynton produced, directed, 
co-edited, and recorded sound on her documen- 
tary feature Our Brand Is Crisis, a 
riveting political thriller that follows Jeremy 
Rosner, Stan Greenberg, Tad Devine, James 
Carville, and other US political consultants 
from the Greenberg Carville Shrum firm as they 
travel to South America to help Gonzalo 
Sanchez de Lozada (aka Goni) become president 
of Bolivia. In 2005, the film won the prestigious 
International Documentary Association's 
Distinguished Documentary Feature Award and 
was nominated for a Truer Than Fiction 
Independent Spirit Award. It opens in theaters 
nationwide in the spring of 2006. 



There's an image of me from the out- 
takes of Our Brand Is Crisis. I'm 
standing on a busy sidewalk in La Paz 
in front of a stuffed animal stand on my way 
to shoot at an outdoor market. I have a blue, 
body-sized bag slung over my shoulders (the 
tripod was in it), and I'm smiling. At the 
time, I was marching along with the DP, and 
he was saying, "It's for the foundation reel, so 
they see how hard you're working." And I 
started laughing and begged him to turn the 
camera off: "Plee-ze don't film me hauling 
the bags!" 

That was a typical shoot moment: me lift- 
ing heavy equipment in La Paz, walking 
uphill, and I remember it well — mostly 



because of the city's altitude. The capital of 
Bolivia is 10,000 feet above sea level and, 
when you're up that high, the lack of oxygen 
is no joke. Walking up a flight of stairs can 
leave you gasping. When you get off the 
plane, there's a small lounge area with an 
oxygen tank for foreigners who have trouble 
breathing. I remember being dumbfounded 
by casual joggers. Who could run up a 
mountain in such thin air? But if you stay a 
while you get used to it. 

Jeremy Rosner, the chief strategist and 
pollster on Goni's campaign, would fly in 
from D.C., get off the plane at 6 am and 
work for 14 hours straight without missing a 
beat. I never understood how he did it. 



March 2006 I The Independent 15 



Si a 



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l/> Q 



Towards the end of shooting, I found out he 
was bringing his own extra-strength 
Starbucks coffee beans with him (in La Paz 
you have to go out of your way to get any- 
thing other than Nescafe.) Personally, I 
drank a ton of coca tea. It was the only thing 
that would keep my head clear and ready for 
the long shoot days. 

Wed start every morning with the daily 
meeting at campaign headquarters. That's 
where the campaign principals would talk 
about the message of the day, what they were 
doing to get it out to newspapers around the 
country, and how to communicate it to the 
people. All the techniques they used were 
identical to the ones used here — the only dif- 
ference was that in Bolivia I was allowed to 
film; in the U.S. I'd never get such open 
access. The consultants would target specific 
segments of the population they knew they 
had a chance of convincing, 
and they were constantly 
trying to keep the campaign 
"on message" — focused on 
specific goals rather than on 
responding to criticism 
from other candidates or 
journalists. Every week 
there was a new theme, and 
every day there was a new 
message. And all of it was 
part of their larger plan. 

But things didn't always 
go smoothly. At one point, 
Goni's principal rival, 
Manfred Reyes Villa, was 
doing so well that the campaign found it 
hard not to get distracted. Manfred had 
made an ad that was testing extremely well in 
the focus groups. It showed him feeding a 
small llama with a baby bottle, smiling, and 
talking about how he was going to revitalize 
Bolivia's economy by increasing the llama 
trade. "Llama's are good for their meat and 
their wool!" he said smiling, a cheery jingle 
buzzing in the background. Here was the 
solution to Bolivia's economic woes: We'll 
slaughter all the baby llamas after getting 
them nice and fat, and make a juicy profit. It 
seemed ridiculous to me, but the truth was, 
people liked it. To many Bolivians it seemed 
practical and feasible. For weeks after the ad 
aired, Goni's campaign manager was running 
around in a panic, relentlessly saying, "We 
need our own llama ad! What is Goni's 



llama?" And everyone looked to the consult- 
ants to come up with the perfect solution to 
the campaign's woes. 

Throughout all this, the American strate- 
gists kept track of the pulse of public opin- 
ion with nationwide polls and local focus 
groups. Jeremy would travel to tiny towns 
and remote villages, to test ads and listen to 
how people felt about the upcoming elec- 
tion. I loved the focus groups; they were fan- 
tastic scenes. You'd watch the American con- 
sultant hiding behind a two-way mirror or 
sitting behind a door, observing the adjacent 
room through a video link. (Jeremy once did 
a group in a rural church with nine drunk 
men, and he had to observe them from the 
closet.) You'd watch a translator whispering 
in the consultant's ear. And you'd hear the 
people share thoughts and feelings about 
their lives and their country and their candi- 




Bolivian presidential hopeful, Goni, at attention. 

dates. The focus groups always felt slightly 
sinister and strangely sacred; here were places 
where people, so often ignored by their lead- 
ers, could speak and be heard by others who 
had real influence. And because I was focus- 
ing on the role of the American strategists in 
the campaign, the groups provided an 
important window into the lives of the 
Bolivians. 

But about halfway through the campaign, 
I realized the majority of my scenes were 
with white men who spoke English and, 
while it was intensely entertaining to listen 
to James Carville tell Goni how he could 
win, I knew I needed more of the Bolivian 
people. I had read in the paper that there was 
a massive march going on. Protesters were 
demanding constitutional reform to ensure 
better representation for the indigenous 



16 The Independent I March 2006 



majority, and they were marching into the 
capital from north, south, east, and west, 
walking for weeks from the countryside to 
reach La Paz. One day, towards the end of 
one of our trips, we didn't have anything 
scheduled to shoot so I thought maybe the 
DP and I could drive into the countryside 
and find the marchistas. So we hired a car 
and driver and set out. We drove for miles, 
pausing at truck stops to ask locals if they'd 
seen any sign of the protest. People always 
shook their heads and said, "Oh no, they 
don't really march. They get bussed in for the 
cameras!" We drove all day. The sun was 40 
minutes from setting when we finally found 
a group of marchers, camping in a school in 
the rural village of Calacotto. We shot the 
perfect scene with the perfect light at the 
"magic hour." 

I was so lucky in so many ways during the 
making of this film. Above all, I was lucky 
with my access. I was allowed to film some- 
thing universal that's normally hidden (the 
way a candidate gets marketed to his people 
in a modern democracy) at a time of intense 
crisis and violence in the country. Many 
people have asked me how I got permission 
to film all the things I did. The consultants 
and the candidate said "yes" independently 
of each other, but it was Goni who was real- 
ly the key. Once he gave me permission, 
almost everyone else followed suit. It was 
very brave of him to allow me to film such 
intimate moments in his campaign, and I 
think he did it because he was proud of his 
previous achievements as Bolivia's president 
from '93 to '97 (he privatized the economy, 
created Social Security and maternal/infant 
health care, and reformed education). He felt 
like he had nothing to hide. I think the con- 
sultants felt similarly — they sincerely 
believed in Goni and in his vision. Of course 
no one could have foreseen how events 
would unfold. 

Some of the most surreal moments of the 
production came towards the end of shoot- 
ing. In late 2003, I went to La Paz by myself 
to get some stock footage from a few local 
television stations. I went to the state-run 
Channel 7 chairman's office to get official 
permission to license the footage — and there 
was a hunger strike going on in the hallway. 
I think the employees hadn't been paid in a 
while, perhaps because the station had no 
money. To protest, they had lined the hall- 




Indigenous women at a press conference for Goni 




Boynton lugging her equipment through Bolivia 



way with mattresses and were sleeping there 
and not eating. At the same time, the chair- 
man had just been fired and no one knew 
who was going to be in charge. I sat in the 
hallway for hours waiting to find out whose 
signature I needed. People lying on mattress- 
es all around me, chanted and waved signs. 
The rules of the game of democracy in 
Bolivia were very different from what I was 
used to. 

In the cutting room Jennifer Robinson 
(the editor) and I spent countless hours 
wrestling with the larger themes — How 
much should a leader listen to the people? 
What does the media require of a modern 
politician? Is our "brand" of democracy 



exportable? And what is our "brand" of 
democracy after all? I wanted all those 
issues to be implicit rather than explicit, to 
arise naturally as the story unfolded. 
Ultimately the edit took about a year and a 
half, partially because the situation in 
Bolivia kept evolving (and so the ending 
kept changing) and partially because it 
took a long time to figure out how to tell 
the story in a scene-based, "fiction feature- 
like" way. But I think the election year of 
2006 is a good time for Our Brand Is 
Crisis — an adventure about the all- 
American art of branding and how it affects 
the state of democracy around the world — 
to come out. ~k 



March 2006 I The Independent 17 



28th Annual 



i 



The industry component o 



-y k 



f MDtPENDENTFILMWEEK 



IFP Market 

Highlights in 

Current/Recent 

Release 



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Mad Hot Ballroom 

distributed by Paramount 

Classics 



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(ME AND YOU AND 
EVERYONE WE KNOW 



Me and You and 
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distributed by First Look 
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SEPTEMBER 17-21 
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The IFP Market is supported in part by the grants from the 

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1-1 

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s 




When it comes to modern mores, 
Deepa Mehta refuses to stop asking why 



By Sarah Coleman 

Five years ago, when Deepa Mehta was 
about to start making her film Water in 
the holy city of Varanasi, India, 1 1 peo- 
ple stood outside the set and threatened to 
light themselves on fire. Weeks before, pro- 
testers had stormed the film's set on the banks 
of the river Ganges and destroyed it, causing 
hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. 
In one climactic moment, a man rowed him- 
self out to the middle of the river, tied a rock 
around his waist, and jumped in, yelling that 
Mehta's film was responsible for his suicide. It 
didn't matter that the man, who survived, was 
exposed as a paid professional suicide 
attempter; by that time, frenzy had hijacked 
common sense, and the local government shut 
down the film's production. 



Watching this delicate, lyrical film, which 
was made four years later in Sri Lanka, and 
will be released in the U.S. next month, it's 
hard to imagine what could have inspired 
such anger. The film follows a group of mar- 
ginalized widows living in a run-down build- 
ing on the banks of the Ganges. It's the 1930s, 
and the widows' struggle for freedom is set 
against the backdrop of Mahatma Gandhi's 
rise to power and the country's larger struggles 
for independence. 

It sounds like a gentle, life-affirming period 
drama, but in India, where millions of widows 
are shunned by their families and forced into 
a life of begging or prostitution, the film hit a 
nerve. According to Hindu scripture, a widow 
has three choices: marry her husband's 



younger brother, burn on her husband's 
funeral pyre, or live a life of isolation and self- 
denial. By daring to suggest that widows are 
worthy of basic human rights, Mehta tem- 
porarily made herself public enemy number 
one for Hindu extremists. 

"These people were the self-appointed 
caretakers of Hinduism, and I was in their 
way," recalls the filmmaker, reached by phone 
at her second home in Delhi. "I was a soft tar- 
get, and an easy one." 

It wasn't the first time Mehta found herself 
at the center of a swirling controversy. Her 
1 996 film Fire, the story of two middle-class 
Indian sisters-in-law who become lovers, 
touched oft violent protests in India. A movie 
theater showing the film was ransacked, and 



March 2006 I The Independent 19 




Sarala was discovered in a small Sri Lankan village and cast as Chuyia in Water. 



Ministry of Family Planning and featured a 
13-year-old girl who worked as a house clean- 
er. "I remember feeling passionately about her 
as we made the movie, and I was so upset to 
find out that she died two years later in child- 
birth," Mehta recalls. 

While filming in Delhi, she met a 
Canadian producer named Paul Saltzman; the 
two married and Mehta moved in 1973 to 
Toronto, where a new raft of filmmaking pos- 
sibilities awaited. Her first two feature films, 
Sam and Me (1991) and Camilla (1994) — 
pleasant, character-driven dramas — are set in 
Toronto. In between those two films, Mehta 
got a call from an unlikely source. "Was I 
interested in meeting George Lucas and possi- 
bly directing an episode of The Young Indiana 
Jones Chronicles 7 ." She laughs. "Yeah, right. 
George Lucas. I thought it was a joke." 

She went on to direct two episodes of the 
series, one of which was set in Varanasi, which 
is where Mehta first came across the widows' 
houses: broken-down buildings filled with 
destitute women with shaved heads and thin 
white robes. "I'd seen a lot of widows while 
the film was withdrawn from distribution. deemed that I'm doing something controver- growing up, but I'd never seen the institution- 
When Mehta appeared to talk about the film sial or cheeky." alization of widows as an adult," she says, 

at the International Film Festival of India, a Listening to Mehta talk about her films, it's "That was my first exposure, and I said, 'My 

man in the audience stood up and hard to imagine she ever wanted to do any- god, one day I'd really like to do a film about 
announced, "I am going to shoot you, thing else. Although she grew 
madam!" up steeped in Bollywood cul- 

One expects, then, that the voice on the ture (her father was a movie 
other end of the phone might be strident, distributor and theater 
defensive, perhaps a little bitter. But Mehta is owner), she wasn't immediate- 
never less than warm and down-to-earth; her ly sold on filmmaking. "On 
laugh is an infectious deep, throaty chuckle. the whole, I thought the 
After the aborted Indian production, it took [Bollywood] movies were a bit 
four years for her to film Water, she says, silly," she says. But one film, 
because she didn't want the film to come from Asit Sen's 1966 Manna, 
a place of anger. "Literally, one day I woke up caught her attention. "It was 
and said, 'Oh my god, I'm not angry any the first film I'd seen that felt 
more," she says. "If Water had happened out so much more real, emotional- 

of anger it would have been a different film — ly, as opposed to over-the-top melodrama. It this whole phenomenon.'" 
and frankly, not one I'd be interested in. moved me greatly, and I realized that there Water and Fire are two parts of an ambi- 

One of several talented female Indian was a kind of cinema that didn't have to be all tious trilogy in which politics intersect with 
directors working today (the group includes cheap and shiny." the personal aspects of women's lives. The 

Mira Nair, Gurinder Chadha, and Aparna Still, she resisted — until a friend persuaded third film, Earth, is set in 1947 in Lahore dur- 

Sen), Mehta is undoubtedly the most taboo- her to work for a while in the Cinema ing the time when India was literally splitting 
breaking of the group. Yet despite their con- Workshop, a government-funded documen- in two. Based on a novel by Pakistani writer 
troversial themes, her films don't trade on sen- tary house in Delhi. "It had nothing that was Bapsi Sidhwa, the film follows the fortunes of 
sationalism. Fire, she says, is less a movie even remotely glamorous, so that felt safe for a beautiful Hindu nanny as the British pull 
about lesbianism than about how traditional, me," she says, adding, "I didn't realize I'd get out of India and a violent sectarian war 
patriarchal Indian society fails women. hooked." erupts. 

"[Patriarchy] is a way of life that, like any Typically enough, her first film, Vimla, When she started working on Earth, 

other, should be questioned," she says. "I focused on the hard realities of women's lives. Mehta says, the film seemed especially rele- 
think questioning is natural — I've never really A documentary, it was made for India's vant because the genocide in Rwanda was 



When Mehta appeared to 

talk about the film at 

the International Film 

Festival of India, a man in the 

audience stood up and 

announced, "I am going to 

shoot you, madam!" 



20 The Independent I March 2006 




Deepa Mehta on the set of Water. 

only a year or two old. "Bapsi said something 
intriguing to me, which was that all wars are 
fought on women's bodies," she says. "I think 
that's especially true of sectarian war, which is 
so devastating." 

Though each part of the trilogy takes place 
in a different era, the three films clearly have 
common themes. Each is about the struggle of 
a woman — or women — to escape male 
oppression, but that doesn't mean that all the 
women in them are angelic. Along with their 
complex heroines, many of Mehta's films fea- 
ture powerful matriarchs bent on thwarting 
the heroine's wishes. "The only people these 
matriarchs can exercise power over is other 
women, so they abuse them," says Mehta. "I 
find that fascinating." 

In between Earth and Water, when she was 
recovering from the aborted production in 
Varanasi, Mehta took some time out to make 
a completely different kind of film. 
Bollywood 'Hollywood, which came out in 
2002, is a romantic comedy full of snappy 
dialogue, quirky characters, and joyous song- 
and-dance numbers. After what had hap- 
pened in Varanasi, Mehta says, "I felt like 
doing something irreverent. I think I wrote 
Bollyivood/Hollywoodm about a month. It was 
very liberating." 

Even at her most frivolous, though, Mehta 
has a knack for creating intriguing, believable 
characters. From Rocky, the house servant in 
Bollywood/Hollywood who has a secret double 
life as a transvestite nightclub singer, to 



Shakuntala, the middle-aged widow in 
Water whose Hindu faith conflicts with her 
earthly desires, Mehta's characters have rich, 
fascinating inner lives. Thanks to her ability 
to write such full characters, Mehta has been 
able to attract leading Indian actresses like 
Seema Biswas and Shabana Azmi to the 
roles. 

These days, Mehta divides her time 
between Toronto and Delhi, spending 
approximately half the year in each city. Not 
being fully immersed in either culture "has 
given me an ability not to look at them 
through rose-colored glasses," she says. That 
clear perspective on both countries will come 
in handy when she films her next project, 
Kamagata Mam, a story of how Canada, 
fearing a "brown invasion," refused to accept 
a ship full of Indian immigrants in 1914. 

With any luck, the project will be free 
from controversy — but don't bank on it. 
Mehta tends to pick subjects that get under 
people's skins, and Kamagata Maru is bound 
to raise some thorny questions about race 
and immigration. If it's anything like 
Mehta's other films, it will be a powerful 
piece of filmmaking that, because it encour- 
ages out-of-the-box thinking, also ruffles 
some feathers. "It all starts from curiosity," 
Mehta says. "Why can't two women make a 
choice to be together or a widow get mar- 
ried? Why do we have racism and exclusion? 
That's what it's about — why, why, why?" ~k 



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March 2006 I The Independent 21 



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itfield, Susan Morse, Terry Lawler, Debra Lee, Tina Fey, Carey Graeber, and Juiianne. Moore 




The New York Women in Film & Television's 25th annual awards 

By S.T. VanAirsdale 



The champagne flowed on one side, the 
red carpet on the other. In between 
were the women, hundreds of them: 
filmmakers, producers, actors, technicians, 
writers, executives and everybody who was in- 
the-know enough to celebrate New York 
Women in Film & Television's 25th annual 
Muse Awards. 

1,200 guests visited the New York Hilton's 
Grand Ballroom to praise honorees Debra Lee, 
president of Black Entertainment Television, 
Juiianne Moore, Tina Fey, and Susan E. Morse, 
film editor. The event's evolution from the initial 
80-person gathering that honored Pauline Kael 
(and, in subsequent years, Robert Benton and 
Dustin Hoffman) to the gala luncheon with 
something like 80 women on the dais alone 
implies a healthy spirit of inclusion. But in 
2005, the flash-fueled fever that swept the room 
pretty much transcended faces and names, sug- 
gesting that the Muse Awards are now more 
about tradition — a festive hybrid of recognition, 
call to action, and celebrity worship. 



As the afternoon began, gossip journalists 
alternated questions like, "What does this 
award mean to you?" with "Who is the hardest 
person you have to shop for during the holi- 
days?" NYWIFT executive director Terry 
Lawler followed Guiding Light stars Nicole 
Forester, Tom Pelphrey, and others into the 
camera glare. Fey praised Saturday Night Live as 
a diverse workplace while speaking adoringly of 
her infant daughter, Alice, and teasing reporters 
about her upcoming project with Da Ali G 
Shows Sacha Baron Cohen. And finally came 
Moore, who paid her own dues as a soap star 
before her 1995 independent-film break- 
through, Safe. 

"That's always a tough question," Moore 
replied when asked how opportunities for 
women have changed in the last decade. "At the 
time I was starting my film career, it was sort of 
the very beginning of independent film. It was 
a time sort of ripe for possibilities for every- 
body — not just women, but for men as well. In 
that time period, independent film sort of 



developed, but was also sort of co-opted by the 
studios. Now you have these sort of mini- 
majors, I guess. And in a sense, I think we're 
due for another period of revolution, where 
now we're looking at completely outside 
investors who are coming in and changing it." 

So does Moore think we will see more 
women producing and working behind the 
scenes as a result of that revolution? Another 
tough question, evidently. "Listen, here's the 
thing, you know?" she said. "I really think that 
your sex has very little to do with what you do 
in the working world. I think the more we talk 
about the differences between men and 
women, the more divisive we are. The more we 
create a division. In a sense, it's about opportu- 
nities for everybody." 

Fair enough, but this was the Muse Awards, 
about which NYWIFT president Carey 
Graeber wrote in the event program, "We ... 
gather today to celebrate women's progress in 
the entertainment industry and the role 
NYWIFT has played in supporting that 



March 2006 I The Independent 23 




growth." And other atten- 
dees, like actress Lynn 
Whitfield {Head of State, 
2003), asserted that there 
remains plenty of room to 
improve. "This is a male- 
driven, male-run business 
with so much of the demo- 
graphic being about what 
men want to see," said 
Whitfield, who stepped 
into the master of cere- 
monies role when profes- 
sional awards-show sniper 
Kathy Griffin called in sick 
the day before. "So to have 
the sensibility of a woman 
behind the camera, to have 
a woman directing you — 
that's a different approach. 
You have to have the 
yin and yang." Later, in her 
opening remarks to the 
lunching crowd, Whitfield 
noted that women repre- 
sented only five percent of 
feature film directors in 
2004. 

After a highlight reel com- 
prised mostly of clips from 
Saturday Night Live, Fey shot 
down the myth of SNL as a 
perpetually hostile boy's club. 
As the show's head writer 
since 1999 (and the first 
woman to hold that post), 
Fey attributed her success in 
pan to SNL alumnae who 
she said blazed a trail for her 
through the 70s and '80s. "I 
appreciate how lucky I am in that way," Fey said. 
"I reap the benefits of whatever baloney Laraine 
Newman and Jane Curtin and Nora Dunn and 
Jan Hooks fought their way through, and I 
thank them," she said and paused a moment. "I 
should say that since I had my baby, I'm trying 
not to curse so much. So when I say baloney... 
you know. 

"Women have always been the stars on our 
show," Fey added. "It's not until they leave and 
try to make movies that they seem to fall 
through the cracks. And that's what I think is 
baloney. That's fucking baloney." 



Hh^^^ ^^^H 




^jJ^Sl *>> *d^l 


r4ii%3i] 



From top: Susan Morse, 
Julianne Moore, and 
Debra Lee, all with their 
2005 Muse Awards. 



BET's Debra Lee, winkingly 
resentful of having to follow Fey to 
the podium, said after her own 
biographical highlight reel, "That's 
just not fair. Although I must 
admit, I beat her out on the hair- 
styles. That afro is my all time 
favorite." 

Fey's genius (and hairstyles) 
notwithstanding, many of the 
event's attendees might have 
acknowledged Lee as the most 
accomplished, influential woman 
in the room. After almost two 
decades with the company — she 
headed up BET operations that 
ranged from publishing to negoti- 
ating the network's S3 billion sale 
to Viacom — Lee succeeded BET 
founder Robert Johnson in 2005 
as the company's president and 
CEO. She entered 2006 as 
Viacom's highest-ranking African- 
American woman executive. 

But Lee's Muse Award 
symbolized more than just her 
corporate advance. She recalled 
her early years at BET, a famously 
equitable workplace where, never- 
theless, her water broke in 
Johnsons Jaguar as he sped the 
expectant mother from work to 
the delivery room. Lee eventually 
exercised her power as BET's 
general counsel to amend the 
company's maternity leave policy. 
Lee also had a bit of general 
praise for NYWIFT and her net- 
work, where, she said, 1 1 of the 17 
top executives are women. "Being 
chosen as a recipient of such an honor," Lee 
said, "by an organization that is as preeminent 
an entertainment industry organization in New 
York is especially pleasing because of the 
important role women have played inside my 
own company. To say that women are keys to 
BET's success is more of an understatement 
than any of you — other than, of course, my 
BET colleagues — in this room can even real- 
ize." 

Muse Award recipient Susan E. "Sandy" 
Morse may have had a boss that was even more 
sympathetic to working mothers than Lee's 



was: Woody Allen, for whom Morse served as 
regular editor from 1979 to 1998, encouraged 
Morse to bring her young son to work on sev- 
eral of his projects in the late '80s. Morse later 
redirected that generosity at her own assistants, 
even the males who reacted with shock when 
she insisted they take paternity leave. "No, no, 
no," Morse claimed she told them. "This isn't 
for you. This is for you in one sense, because 
it's still very lovely for you to see what it's like 
to watch your baby born and to see what it's 
like as he or she develops over those first cou- 
ple weeks. But no — this is for your wife." 

Morse concluded her speech expressing her 
"modest dream" of a day when the pairing of 
such personal considerations and professional 
achievements would not be that remarkable. 
She was barely back in her seat before 
Whitfield asked, "So what does a black person 
need to do to get a role in a Woody Allen 
film?" A nice attempt at channeling that Kathy 
Griffin-esque snark the audience was counting 
on, even if a true saint like Morse might have 
deserved a little better. 

But all was forgotten when Julianne Moore 
approached the podium. She expounded on 
her recent trip to Norway, where she joined 
Salma Hayek to co-host the Nobel Peace Prize 
concert ("It was ripe for an SNL parody," she 
said, glancing sort-of hopefully toward Fey). 
Moore then cited some of her own muses, 
horn her front-row friend and colleague Ellen 
Barkin to her mother, who she said never 
indulged an alternative to balancing family and 
career. She simply expected her daughter to do 
both — and Moore has. "The question that 
makes me angriest," Moore explained, "other 
than, 'Why did you take your clothes off in 
that movie?' is, you know, 'Isn't that hard? How 
do you do it?' Or when I say to somebody, 
'Oh, I'm starting this job in January, and we're 
trying to figure it out.' And they say, 'Oh, that's 
terrible.' 

"And I think, no, it's not," she continued. 
"It's not terrible. It's fantastic. I have this fan- 
tastic job, and I have this fantastic flexibility in 
my life. I have wonderful children, and I have 
a wonderful husband. And I have it because of 
my mother and all of our mothers and all of 
the people who paved the way." ir 



24 The Independent I March 2006 




By Katherine Dykstra 

osario Dawson was sleeping when I 
arrived on the set of Descent at 
Brooklyn's Galapagos bar/gallery on a 
slushy morning in December. I had come to 
interview Dawson and her Trybe production 
company partner and longtime friend, Talia 
Lugacy. But Lugacy was busy directing the 
film's "club scene," and thus also unavailable, so 
I waited in the cavetnous extras quarters next 
door. 

More than an hour had passed, and I was 
beginning to get antsy, when suddenly the 
space was crawling with 20-somethings in 
nightclub attire; the scene had wrapped and 
Lugacy, all long hair and low-key, stood out 
amongst her actors. She and I were led into the 
same makeshift dressing room where Dawson 
was supposed to be sleeping — "I think she's 
gone for lunch now," said the publicist. 

At first, Lugacy, 25, answeted my questions 
with a low voice and bent head, but she loos- 
ened up as she began to talk about Descent, a 
rape revenge story with a savage twist near the 
end, which she co-wrote with Brian Priest and 
which stars Dawson, 26, {Sin City, Rent, The 
25th Hour). This is exactly the kind of collab- 
orative project (Lugacy writing and directing, 
Dawson acting and producing) that the two 
women have been wanting to do since they 
met nearly ten years ago at The Lee Strasberg 
Theatre Institute in New York. They were a 
mere 1 5 and 1 6 respectively. 

After my interview, and during her photo 
shoot, Lugacy's shyness returned; she fidgeted 
with her hands and wasn't sure whether to 
look into the lens or to ignore it. Just as I was 




Rosario Dawson 
& Talia Lugacy 

Getting Trybe off the ground 



wondering whether Dawson would show at 
all, she blew in — "Rosario's on the floor!" 
someone shouted. Dawson grabbed Lugacy by 
the hand, pulled her into her lap, and began 
mugging for the camera. Her effect on Lugacy 
was marked — Lugacy's anxiety dissolved and 
her smile came naturally. Dawson, as outgoing 
and excited as Lugacy is quite and contempla- 
tive, seemed to have the same calming affect 
on everyone, making it impossible to stay 
annoyed with her, even when she keeps you 
waiting for hours. 

Katherine Dykstra: Tell me about your 
relationship with Talia. I know you've 
known each other for years. 



Rosario Dawson: Well, my first film was 
Kids, and after I did the movie, we ended up 
moving to Texas for a year and then I got a call 
to come back. I was 16. I got an agent, and it 
was like, 'Ok, I'm going to pursue acting.' Even 
though it wasn't anything I was doing before. 
And my grandmother was like, 'If you're going 
to take it seriously, you have to go to acting 
class.' So she signed me up to go to Strasberg, 
and I walk in and there's all these young people 
there, all trying to, you know, they have theit 
reels and stuff like that. I didn't understand any 
acting or movie-speak because I hadn't been an 
actor before. I walk in and there's Talia with 
that hair and like this big Kubrick t-shirt. She 
was extremely focused and very driven as she's 



larch 2006 I The Independent 25 



Dawson, here in Little Black Dress, a short directed by Lugacy, has only worked with a handful of female directors, but hopes to see that change. 



always been. And we were great friends after could be shot for cheap, but the material, the KD: Talk about that, what walls? 

that for a very long time, and we always content, is so scary for people that we're having RD: At the end of the day, it was great, we 

talked about the fact that she was going to even more trouble trying to get financing for got all our money by independent financing, 

write and direct and that I was going to act this then we did Incense and Peppermints. we were able to have final cut, we get to main- 

and produce. That's just something that's tain the negative, which is really brilliant, espe- 

always been our goal. KD: What's it like working with Talia? daily for our first film. But it also doesn't nec- 

RD: It's amazing seeing a director be able to essarily guarantee us distribution. We changed 

KD: Are you two in sync? handle the crew, being able to handle the DPs in the middle of shooting, we've had huge 

RD: I think I've been able to be more hands actors, the story, maintaining all the different location issues, and we're not getting anything 

on and get experience in a way that she hasn't things and still hitting walls because we're mak- for free which really hurts. It's the winter, and 

been able to have. I constantly work all the ing an independent movie, and a lot of the this movie is supposed to take place in 

time, but it actually goes by in a blur, and she's time you have to make changes specifically just September, 

a very patient person and can't imagine making for the budget, and they effect creative things, 
a film without it taking a year at least. 



KD: What have you worked on together? 

RD: We just did a short film this summer 
for Glamour magazine, for Film Aid, which 
they screen in refugee camps in Africa. They 



and you have to juggle that, and you have to KD: Do you think about your femaleness 

juggle it quickly to keep going. as you work? 

RD: I do think about it because most of the 

KD: You've worked on quite a bit of time, if you look at a lot of films I've done over 

Hollywood stuff" as well. the last 10 years, I'm not usually with other 

RD: What's great about doing big-budget females, which is really interesting. I've only 

approached me to direct it. I said I want her stuff is when you use it well, and you're still a worked with a handful of female directors. 
[Talia] to direct it to kind of establish us as director and a storyteller, and you're able to put 

Trybe. I want to really put our company out those stories out, and then have the budget to KD: And do you see that changing? 

there. It's been really hard for the past couple support how you want to express it. But a lot of RD: It's interesting. Where we don't have a 

years; we were pushing a different script called times it doesn't happen, so you end up having lot of female directors to look up to — it is 

Incense and Peppermints. When we were doing to go to the independent films that don't nee- something that's breaking. I think women sto- 

the meetings on it with different producers essarily look like they want it to look but it's a rytellers have a way of telling stories and under- 

they were like, 'It's a great script, but it's a peri- great story. I have worked on so many different standing things that I think need to be appre- 

od piece. It's going to cost a lot of money. And films and gone, 'I want to do something. I ciated. And you see a lot of female directors 

Rosario, maybe if you were in it, we could kind want to be accountable for something. I want taking on male stories and doing beautiful 

of raise the money that way.' [Descent] took us to know that there's a movie in the theater that things with them, because that's kind of what 

a couple years of doing different meetings with I'm one hundred percent accountable for.' I they're left doing. There are so many changes 

different people, people who loved it but were don't want to walk away going, 'Hey man, I happening with people downloading things 

like 'the material itself is just really heavy for didn't like that movie either.' This is our first and money not being made the way they 

people.' It's just kind of interesting because I film; we're definitely hitting a lot of walls. expect it to be. I think it's an opportunity for 

was like, 'You made a film that stars me and people to jump in and make changes and be 



26 The Independent I March 2006 




For Lugacy, Trybe Films is about creating 
films she can't live without making. 



proactive. Like when independent film really 
started coming up, people were like, 'Holy shit, 
we don't have to [work] with the studios? We 
can do this ourselves? We can call the shots? 
Right on.' I think it really comes in waves, and 
that's what I'm hoping happens with women 
storytellers and women directors. I think that's 
really the next wave that really hasn't been 
explored as well as it could be. 



Katherine Dykstra: Where did Descent 
come from? 

Talia Lugacy: The writing happened fast. 
The concept took a little while to come up 
with. Brian and I wrote a script previous to 
this and everyone was saying, 'Oh, it's too 
sweet. It's too this. It's too that.' So we put 
our heads together and decided that if we 
were going to make a film, we really wanted 
to shake things up. 

KD: And how did you get it made? 

TL: Everyone who read it was like, 'Oh, 
my God, the graphic violence of it, the sen- 
sitive racial aspects to it.' There were so many 
different things in there that people were 
offended by on so many different levels. 
Every step of the way we were told, 'Just 
change the ending. Modify this. Lighten this 
up.' But we finally found a fellow by the 
name of Morris Levy [of Mega Films] who 
read the script. At first he was a bit aghast, 
but he read it again and got behind it. 



KD: So it's worth it to stick to your guns? 

TL: Oh yeah, absolutely. One of the themes 
of the film is that there are things that happen 
that cannot be articulated. This manipulation 
of words continues throughout the film in that 
her sense of herself is based on what other 
people say about her. So the 'descent' starts 
even before the rape happens because she has 
self doubt. No, she doesn't go to a counselor, 
but that's real. I've never really seen that. 

KD: Tell me about Trybe. 

TL: This is something Rosa and I have been 
dreaming about forever. Brian and I had this 
other script that didn't include her as an 
actress, so it was hard to get that off the 
ground. We were totally committed to it until 
we realized, well, that's not going to be finan- 
cially feasible. So we tackled this one. So this 
will be our debut — the birth of Trybe so to 
speak. And in the future we'll stay together and 
continue making films we think we can't live 
without making. 

KD: This film has a strong female lead. Is 
that important to you? 

TL: That was not intentional, not purpose- 
ful at all. I'm not on some sort of tirade for 
women's rights. This is a humanistic thing and 
the films that we want to make are the ones 
that pay attention to people: how they really 
are, and how they really behave and interact, 
and what they go through, and what it means 
to be a person. 

KD: And is that how you see Trybe being 
different from another company? 

TL: Absolutely. We've come to a point 
where people are very familiar with the lan- 
guage, so you can fuck with them a little more 
by using their expectations to thwart them. 
That's the kind of thing that we want to keep 
doing. 

KD: And what about the difference 
between an independent film and a 
Hollywood film? 

TL: I'm starting to not see a difference any- 
more. 

KD: So if you were to define independent 
film... 

TL: Independent film is really, from start to 
finish, pooling your own resources and getting 
all the way to the end without having a major 



player tell you how to do things. But then that 
line's quite blurry because there are different 
stages when you need help and you need 
things and you can only get to a certain point 
on your own. The way that I could do it, is to 
define it in terms of its spirit, its energy, its pur- 
pose, like no one who got on board for this were 
like, 'I'm going to do this because I'm going to 
rake in the dough.' None of us were thinking 
that, so maybe that's what separates it. 

KD: How did you get interested in film? 

TL: I just was watching movies all the time 
when I was a kid. It was really the only thing I 
ever wanted to do. I actually tried to get into 
NYU when I was like 14, I went there, and I 
was like, 'Please just let me take a class or 
something.' And they were like, 'Come back.' 
So I ended up taking acting classes at Strasberg 
in New York. 

KD: What kind of advice do you have for 
someone who's just starting out? 

TL: Advice? I'm far too young to be giving 
any advice. 

KD: Well, what have you learned? 

TL: If you're imitating, you're going to find 
yourself quite stunned. 

KD: What's your most important 
resource on set? 

TL: My brain. Every single day we're shoot- 
ing is quite different, because, like I said, the 
story keeps changing so every location we go 
to is like it's own little world, so we get into a 
different mindset, 'Where is she at this stage of 
her evolution,' kind of, so every couple of days 
has it's own energy. 

KD: Did you scout locations for Descent?. 

TL: Absolutely. I did as much as I could 
before we even got the money. You have like a 
nickel to make an entire thing come into 
being, and it's really hard but you do it. I find 
producing to be a lot of fun. To my mind you 
can't really separate directing from producing: 
What are my resources exactly? What can I do 
when? How can I set up my schedule? It's 
inseparable. If I don't have a strong handle on 
how the production is running, I can't 
really assert as much as I need to creatively in 
a directing capacity, not at this level anyway. ~k 



March 2006 I The Independent 27 



:ity Huffman (right) plays a transsexual, Bree, who is reunited 
her son Toby (Kevin Zegers) in Duncan Tucker's Transamerica. 




• 



n Girls 



i > 



In a year full of masculine movies, 
five men wrote women very well 



BY ELIZABETH ANGELL 

From time to time there is a banner year for female characters. 
A great fuss is made about how movie-land has changed, allow- 
ing women into a club that hadn't previously given them more 
than a handful of meaty roles at a time. 
2005 was not one of those years. 

Most of the movies that earned the best reviews and the most little 
statues last year were stories that explored the craggy, unstable territory 
of modern manhood: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, A History of Violence, 
Grizzly Man, Hustle & Flow. These are all serious and wonderful films 
and proof that the film industry — at least the independent one — is 
healthy and vital and brimming with talent. But where does that leave 
the ladies? 

The Independent decided to shine a light on five movies whose male 
filmmakers bucked that trend. Their films revolved around women, and 
they elicited memorable performances from their female leads. Of 
course, there were incredible female filmmakers — Miranda July for 
example — who released films with compelling and realistic portraits of 
women, but we wanted to look at what happened when filmmakers 
directed — and in some cases wrote — across gender, attempting nuanced 
and believable portraits of the opposite sex. The result is five very differ- 
ent movies about a broad range of women. 



Nine Lives 

Rodrigo Garcia almost single handedly made up for the dearth of juicy 
female roles with Nine Lives, a series of anecdotes that act as windows into 
the lives of several very different women. Garcia has long kept a notebook 
of ideas, and when he began to write this script, he plucked nearly a dozen 
vignettes from it, which he then developed and strung together. Garcia 
chose to put women at the center of each segment simply because he likes 
his female characters the best: "The men that I write all feel like versions of 
myself. The women feel more differentiated," he says. "The men are often 
a little too good or a little too bad. I never feel they're as complex." 

Each of Nine Lives segments is filmed in real time without cuts. Garcia 
worked with each of his actresses (Elpidia Carrillo, Robin Wright Penn, 
Lisa Gay Hamilton, Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Amy Brenneman, 
Amanda Seyfried, Sissy Spacek, and Kathy Baker) for two days, rehearsing 
exhaustively on the first and filming on the second. They'd do as many 
takes as they could until they were too tired to continue or the light ran 
out. Then Garcia would choose the best version. The whole thing cost 
about 5500,000. Because Garcia doesn't rely on edits, the blocking is often 
dazzling complex. The camera stays close as the actors navigate tight spaces, 
which results in a real intimacy with the characters: a fraught nurse con- 
fronts her tormentor; a wistful and lonely mother contemplates infidelity; 
a loyal, winsome daughter ferries messages between her parents, looking for 
a way into adult life. 



28 The Independent I March 2006 




In Nine Lives, Robin Wright Penn's Diana traumatically runs into an ex in the produce section of a grocery store. 



In the 10 to 14 minutes allotted to them, Garcia's nine women show 
a remarkable range of emotion. No portrait is static and although many 
take place somewhere ordinary — a grocery store, a bedroom, a motel — 
each chapter illustrates the moment when a fundamental shift occurs in 
the characters life. "I don't write films about people in the Himalayas or 
people robbing banks in Shanghai," Garcia says. "Writing about women 
is my way of going somewhere." 

In the opening story, Carrillo's Sandra plays a prison inmate on her 
best behavior, eager to redeem herself and find a way back to her daugh- 
ter. But the reckless rage that apparently landed her in jail seethes beneath 
her surface and finally erupts. It is a powerful beginning and a harbinger 
of what seems to be Garcia's larger point: While we may try to be our best 
selves, to contain the past, our darker angels always live within us, affect- 
ing everything we do and everyone we love. 

What's remarkable about Garcia's film is that it resists easy synthesis: 
The parts do not form a single narrative arc or resolve neatly, and while 
familiar faces reappear throughout the film, this is not a movie about 
how connected we all are. Rather, it's a film about how a life can pivot in 
a flash. "I've always been interested in small stuff," Garcia says, "in a 
miniature or a moment that says something about the rest of the life." 
There are no happy endings, only moments of quiet revelation. 

Junebug 

Without its three female characters, Phil Morrison's film about a frac- 
tious Southern family would be an exercise in verbal economy. Few words 
are shared by the three very different — but equally reserved — men. 

Instead, Junebug is filled up by its complex women. Embeth Davidtz' 
sophisticated Madeleine speaks in a dulcet British accent that makes her 
eager generosity imperceptible to her guarded new in-laws. Madeleine's 
perfect manners and too-polished surface mask her genuine need to 
know and be known by her new relatives. Celia Weston's tart matriarch, 
Peg, isn't easily won over by Madeleine. She loves her children fiercely 



and wants only to protect them from outside forces that might make 
their lives seem small or shabby. Amy Adams' effusively optimistic 
Ashley is one of the finest performances of the year. She prattles on, at 
first appearing to be a slightly dim naive and ultimately revealing herself 
to be the heart of the film and of the Johnston clan, because as Morrison 
points out, her relentless positivity draws out the best in everyone. 

Morrison resists dividing his characters along gender lines (quiet men 
and the women who love them) and instead groups them according to 
something more elusive. On the one side there are Peg and her two sons, 
Madeleine and Ashley's husbands. This trio seems hopelessly trapped 
inside themselves and unable to believe the best about anyone else. In the 
other camp are Ashley and Eugene, Peg's husband: patient, loving, and 
unflagging in their belief that all will turn out for the best. Madeleine, 
says Morrison, must find her way into this last category or a crucial bal- 
ance is lost. "All the spouses temper each other," he says. 

Morrison, who directed the film from a script written by his child- 
hood friend Angus MacLachlan, grew up in Winston Salem, North 
Carolina, where the film is set. Though Junebug is about his hometown, 
Morrison says he was wary of falling into the trap of "write what you 
know." He didn't want to get too cozy in common stereotypes. 

"Write what you don't know about what you think you know," 
Morrison says with a laugh. "If you're a guy, doing a project where the 
weight is with the women characters is one way of doing that." 

Funny Ha Ha 

In the first scene of Andrew Bujalski's debut film, Marnie, a recent 
college graduate living in Boston, wanders, tipsy, into a tattoo parlor and 
suggests a couple of goofy ideas for the artist to ink into her flesh. 

"You really haven't thought about what you want," says the 
proprietor. 

"Oh I've thought about it," Marnie replies. 

And she has. She just hasn't made a decision. 



larch 2006 I The Independent 29 



Just like Mamie, Bujalski's film thinks hard without drawing any pat 
conclusions. Funny Ha Ha tracks a few weeks in Mamie's life as she looks 
for a job, searches aimlessly for a relationship, tries on a couple different 
hobbies. Like many recent grads, Mamie is waiting for the certainty of 
adulthood to catch up with her. 

Bujalski wrote the screenplay for Funny Ha Ha in 1999, and although 
it won a Someone to Watch Award at the Independent Spirits in 2004, 
Funny Ha Ha only found distribution last year. 

Bujalski based his heroine on his good friend, Kate Dollenmayer, 
whom he then cast as his lead. "I somehow got the notion in my head 
that she'd be a good person to try to build a film around," he says. "I took 
a wild guess that her charisma would translate to the screen and could 
support a feature film." 

Shot on location on 16mm film on a budget of less than $100,000, 
Bujalski's movie has the naturalistic style of John Cassavetes and Mike 
Leigh, though there is little melodrama in Funny Ha Ha. The action is 




Kate Dollenmayer plays Marnie, a recent college grad in the midst 
of the shock of real life, in Funny Ha Ha. 

resolutely small and the characters uniformly subdued. It is a portrait of 
that time after college when everything is open and unresolved — which 
scares the crap out of Marnie. She huddles for safety in apartments that 
look like dorm rooms, wears beat-up sneakers and torn jeans, and drinks 
lots of cheap beer. 

Dollenmayer, perhaps because she is sort of playing herself, exudes a 
tentative sweetness that perfectly matches Bujalski's cinematic style. She 
is sad-eyed and self-effacing, melancholic from loneliness, but still 
unmistakably hopeful. Bujalski has a genuine ear for how people talk to 
each other — how difficult it is to ask for what we really want and say 
what we really mean. In one scene Marnie has the perfect opportunity to 
confess her feelings to her crush, Alex. Instead, she agrees with him, sev- 
eral times, that now is not really a good time to talk. 

Centering his film on a female character, says Bujalski, 29, was a way 
to get a bit of distance on all too familiar territory. "I put a lot of myself 
in [Marnie]," he says, "and having that necessary half-step of distance 
inherent to the gender switch made it much easier for me to write the 
character." 

Transamerica 

Everyone's first question for Duncan Tucker is: Why did you cast a 



woman to play Bree? Transamericds central character, played by Felicity 
Huffman, is a transsexual male in the final steps of gender reassignment. 
Though she dresses as a woman, has undergone facial reconstructive sur- 
gery, and has been taking hormones for years, for the majority of the film 
Bree still has the physical trappings of maleness. "It's simple," answers 
Tucker, "I think of Bree as a woman." 

Tucker's movie covers a lot of well-known ground: the open road that 
leads to self-discovery, hilarious moments of mistaken identity, a mysti- 
cally wise and accepting Indian. But his protagonist defies what Tucker 
calls the American penchant for cut and dried duality: black or white, 
blue or red, gay or straight, man or woman. Bree is essentially still both 
when the film begins. Though she knows herself to be female, she must 
face her fears and uncertainties — as well as her upcoming surgery — in 
order to truly become a woman. 

At the beginning of the film, Bree is deeply prim and proper. Despite 
her radical decision, she is an inherently traditional person. She covers up 
her body in long skirts and high collars and uses her intelligence as a 
buffer to keep new acquaintances at arm's length. She recognizes — quite 
rightly — that if she lets them in and they discover her secret, she risks 
profound destabilization. 

Over the course of the film, Tucker and Huffman let Bree loosen up. 
She is at first disconcerted, but ultimately renewed. She wears clothes 
that make her look like a woman comfortable in her own skin, and in a 
final revealing shot, we see Bree naked, as the woman she has become. 
Tucker shot the film with a handheld camera, a technique usually used 
to unsettle an audience. In this case, it brings us in a bit closer. "Bree is 
an old character," says Tucker, "just with a twist." 

Heights 

Chris Terrio's first feature, Heights, is a daisy-chain ensemble drama — 
a genre which seemed to be in vogue last year. The film concerns the lives 
of Diana (Glenn Close), a charismatic and successful actress whose face 
adorns the sides of bus shelters, her daughter Isabel (Elizabeth Banks), a 
struggling photographer unsure about whether to marry Jonathan (James 
Marsden), a character whose conflicted sexuality ensnares him in a love 
triangle with Alec (Jesse Bradford), a talented young actor who auditions 
for Diana. And so on. 

Though the movie gives almost equal time to each of the characters, 
it is Close's Diana who holds the center of the story. She is an unrepen- 
tant narcissist whose incredible talent allows her to get away with bad 
behavior, though she is trying to be a better mother to a daughter who 
sorely needs her advice and support. She ultimately succeeds in that most 
difficult of roles by holding herself back from explicitly telling Isabel 
what to do. Instead, Isabel discovers what she needs to know on her own 
and then turns to her mother for comfort. It is a rare nuanced portrayal 
of an adult mother-daughter relationship, one that changes for the better 
only after both parent and child have grown up. 

Terrio says he was drawn equally to all his characters, gay and straight, 
male and female. "What's exciting to me is writing about someone who 
wants something badly and is having trouble getting it." In Diana, he 
found just such a character. Although she is a fierce and accomplished 
person who out-earns her wayward, much younger husband, she wants 
desperately to balance her family against her career. "I think a lot of 
women have to manage that dynamic," says Terrio. And what more 
fitting tribute to women than a realistically complicated struggle? *k 



30 The Independent I March 2006 




BY DANIELLE DIGIACOMO 



I 




recognize Ryanne Hodson as soon as I enter the 
Lower East Side cafe — even though I've never met 
her before. After watching her video blogs, I feel as 
though I already know the pretty, engaging, 26- 
year-old artist, who is now at the forefront of a small but 
rapidly growing movement of video bloggers. "Vlogging" 
essentially consists of making short videos and, after 
compressing them to specific settings (to ensure, as vlog- 
ger Jan McLaughlin says, that they are "reliably seen 
without stuttering, buffering streams getting in the 
way"), posting them online. Websites like www.ourmedia.org, 
www.blogger.com, and http://blip.tv offer free media hosting, and reg- 
ular vloggers can sign up for an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, 
which allows them to download vlogs to one easily accessible place as 
well as highlight their work on sites like www.mefeedia.com, a direc- 
tory of free vlogs. All this ensures an immediacy of distribution, exhi- 
bition, and gratification previously unknown to the often frustratingly 
snail-paced, red-taped world of film and video production. 

For Hodson, who dealt with the typical frustrations of getting her 
video work seen after she graduated from a Boston art college in 2002, 
vloggings lack of barriers is, "what I've always been looking for." When 



Meet the female pioneers of 
the next big web thing 



Vlog! 



fellow Beantown-er Steve Garfield, who the Boston Phoenix called "the 
father of vlogging," introduced her to the form, it was love at first post. 
Hodson's vlog, in which she usually "stars," consists of highly person- 
al, slice-of-life works that vary formally. Some are long takes, while oth- 
ers are intricately edited montage. 

When I ask how many hours a day she spends online, she looks a bit 
sheepish, admitting, "at least nine hours, but I guess it's my job." It is. 
Not only does she publish a regularly updated "per-vlog" — one of the 
most popular in the country — she also created and maintains the 
instructional Free Vlog site (www.freevlog.org), teaches free workshops, 
hosts monthly presentations at Soho's Apple Store, and is working on 



larch 2006 I The Independent 31 




Asking all the tough questions: Internet vlogger Zadi Diaz, or Karmagrrrl to you, conducts an interview. 



a full-length how-to book on vlogging, essentially a more detailed 
print-version of her Freevlog site. 

Across the country at Los Angeles' Apple Store, Zadi Diaz (vlogger 
identity: Karmagrrrl) leads similar vlogging presentations. The 3 1 -year- 
old has worked as a magazine photo editor, marketing director, com- 
munity activist, and playwright. While working at the Indy Media 
Center, she learned to shoot video and alter it for internet uploading. 
Born in Harlem and raised in three of New York's boroughs, Diaz is a 
true bagel babe transplanted into a wheatgrass world. When she relo- 
cated to L.A. with her fiancee, she discovered that vlogging was a cre- 
ative way to keep in touch with loved ones. 

Her vlog (http://smashface.com/vlog/) has since evolved into a more 
topical one, fusing personal intimacy with political commentary, often 
altering focus with each post. "In one post I can be political, in anoth- 
er personal and diaristic, in another more creative and experimental. 
Or I can combine them all and make something new," she says. "It's a 
way to document myself — not necessarily what I'm doing — but my 
thought process. And it lets me invite others into that." One entry 
called "All Hallow's Eve" is a beautifully haunting experimental video 
in which ghostly figures pulsate to a distorted version of Simon and 
Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair." "Wake Me Up When September 
Ends," the eponymous Green Day song, plays over a visual commen- 
tary on Hurricane Katrina, using evocative footage to create empathy 
for its victims and newscast footage to criticize the government's 
response. 

Like Hodson, vlogging is more than a passing fancy for Diaz who, 
along with teaching Apple workshops, serves as the L.A. correspondent 
for Rocketboom, the irreverent daily "news-style" vlogcast that is like- 
ly to be the first of its kind to penetrate mainstream pop culture (it's 
already been made available for subscription by TiVo). Inspired by her 
vlogging experience, Diaz began a supplementary career in documen- 



tary filmmaking (the reverse trajectory of most other vloggers). 

Recently highlighted in the New York Times piece on vlogging, 
Charlene Rule is an innovative, much-lauded presence on the scene 
who just showcased her work at the East Village's Pioneer Theatre. At 
http://scratchvideo.tv/, Rule produces what she terms "diaristic, exper- 
imental" vlogs. A recent post called Caviar2 is only 20 seconds: a for- 
eign female voice singing over close-up shots of her fingernails. In the 
accompanying post, she notes that it is a reaction to being robbed. The 
combination is starkly beautiful and fully emotional. Like many vlog- 
gers, Rule "pays the rent by following established rules and breaking 
them on their own time," working as a successful cinema verite editor. 

While Rule describes an oppositional relationship between the tra- 
ditional film world and vlogging, McLaughlin has found that the two 
are not necessarily mutually exclusive. As a successful motion picture 
sound-mixer (she worked on James Mangold's Heavy and Greg 
Mottola's The Daytrippers), McLaughlin has recently found a resource- 
ful way to use vlogging on the set of The Skeptic, a quirky indie thriller 
directed by Tennyson Bardwell, for which she produces daily behind- 
the-scenes vlogs that are posted online and will be given to the crew as 
wrap gifts. A bit older than most of vlogging's main practitioners — 
who tend to be in their mid- to late-20s — the self-proclaimed baby 
boomer cites Hodson as one of two artists whose work attracted her to 
the vlogosphere. Thoughtful and articulate, McLaughlin began adult 
life as "an idealist student of philosophy." She began making "short 
poetry films" in 1985 and later discovered a passion and talent for 
sound-mixing while taking an New York University filmmaking 
course. Nowadays vlogging takes up much of her time. Along with 
maintaining her "main" vlog (http://fauxpress.blogspot.com/), 
McLaughlin also hosts one dedicated to her poetry and literature 
(http://the-hold.blogspot.com/), is a member of a group vlog 
(http://meetthevloggers.blogspot.com/), maintains the vlogosphere's 



32 The Independent I March 2006 



BOO 



"online press kit" at http://vlogpresskit.blogspot.com, produces audio 
books and sound vlogs at http://blog.urbanartadventures.com/, and, 
finally, runs Instant Documentaries (www.instantdocumentary.com/), 
a business that provides vlogging for special events, from bar mitzvahs 
to wrap parties. 

While terms like RSS Feed, bandwidth, and compression may seem 
intimidating to the casual computer user, all of the vloggers with whom 
I spoke insist that the technology is easy, pointing to sites like 
FreeVlog, which Hodson set up with fellow vlogger Michael Verdi, that 
guide newbies through the process of setting up a vlog. The lack of dif- 
ficulty is an accurate claim. I was introduced to the form when I was 
hired to teach it at an after-school program at a Bronx high school. Like 
McLaughlin, I had spent many a day attempting to find the perfect set- 
tings for uploading or buffering video streams of my work. Using 
Freevlog, I became a confident vlogger after a couple days. 

In fact, most of the hard stuff has already been mastered — the pio- 
neers ("techievideogeeks" as Hodson describes herself) slaved obses- 
sively to find exactly the right "balance between quality and file-size. 
Easy-to-use blog software, distribution technology, and compression 
settings have all been figured out, and every day the process gets easier 
for a non-technical type to learn," says McLaughlin. 

To even the most tech-sawy initiates, though, the sheer amount of 
cool sites through which to surf can be intimidating. Just a year ago, 
there were 20 vlogs in Mefeedia's directory; today there are over 4,000. 
One fun way to navigate through the world of vlogging is 
http://vlogmap.org, which combines Google Earth mapping with a 
directory of vlogs, allowing surfers to see all of the vlog activity 
throughout the globe. 

Becoming Your Own Network 

Each of these women describes her connection with vlogging as an 
instantaneous spark, a moment of "clicking" during which they sud- 
denly "got" vloggings potential. Diaz, who lacks a traditional film- 
making background, compares this to the early days of Hollywood. 
"That's the beauty of videoblogging — you don't need [a filmmaking 
background]. All you need is an interest and desire to tell your story." 
Unlike the mainstream media, which Hodson says, "doesn't allow peo- 
ple to have voices," there are no producers or curators involved. And 
vloggers are so enthused about the form that they actively try to recruit 
others; they are, says McLaughlin, "passionate about making this 
knowledge freely available." 

"Interactive" seems to be vloggings keyword. Rule says, "this is the 
most satisfying part of videoblogging for me. I am not preaching to just 
people with the same background. That is limiting and useless to me." 
The form combines the greatest aspect of the internet — its potential 
for worldwide, near-instant communication — with creative produc- 
tion. Linking to and integrating snippets of others' work creates a com- 
munity in which it is hard to tell where one vlog ends and another 
begins. For example, Rule says by connecting her individual vlogs, 
"each of my pieces feed into a larger work. The cumulative nature of 
this creates a body of work that transcends into a more powerful lan- 
guage. There are infinite ways of streaming each piece to one another." 

All this talk or linking and sharing sounds a little like the core val- 
ues taught in kindergarten. And at times, each woman sounds like a 
slightly naive college hippie with an idealistic vision of the world. Yet 




«♦ 



+*)(^S (*£)(*, 





Above: A Ryanne Hodson posting. Below: Katmagrrri herself. 

it is hard to blame them after seeing the positive impact of the wide- 
spread and supportive community they have helped build through 
vlogging. 

Many vloggers feel the form provides a greater tolerance for experi- 
mentation. Rule finds the intimate connection she has with viewers 
makes taking risks more accepted. "People don't seem to feel intimi- 
dated looking at this more experimental art because being able to have 
them comment makes it more of a shared experience. Although the 
work is somewhat enigmatic, I'm allowed to put an idea out there that 
may be completely absurd, but at the same time the audience is com- 
fortable enough with me to share it without feeling like they need to 
know too much about the art world." Unlike much avant-garde exper- 
imentation, it involves rather than alienates, even with its strangeness. 

If television's "reality" is plastic pop stars primped in Hollywood 
manses, vloggings version of reality is normal women like Rule stuff- 
ing her bra to fit into a bridesmaid dress. "Vlogging replaces stories of 
unattainable looks and lives with those within everyone's grasp and 
understanding," says McLaughlin. "I get the sense that people have 
tired of the unconscious stress of perfection's unrealistic demands." 



March 2006 I The Independent 33 




Turning the Tables: Zadi Diaz in front of (as well as behind) the camera 



Folk History for the Podcasting Age 

According to McLaughlin, "Videoblogging sprang from a deep cul- 
tural need to once again participate in the creation of entertainment 
and is in effect a return to the campfire around which people cook, eat, 
dance, sing, and tell stories." In addition to its directly political pur- 
poses, vlogs open communication, create empathy, and revive the "per- 
sonal is political" spirit. Diaz concurs that, "borders become irrelevant 
so on both a political and personal level we are able to communicate in 
a more successful and intellectual level. We are learning from one 
another." 

One possible hurdle is copyright. While Vloggers have been able to 
get around this by either crediting others' work or using Creative 
Commons licenses, which offers a variety of publishing licenses for 
sharing (see www.creativecommons.org), others have simply crossed 
their fingers and hoped they wont get sued. Rule doesn't feel restricted 
by these issues since she has no intention of making a profit. 
"Whenever I do use music, I link to a place you can buy the song. 
Mashups [in which a song or image is taken from another artist's vlog 
and remixed] are so much fun, it would be a shame if copyright limit- 
ed creativity." Sadly, McLaughlin feels that, as money enters the mix, 
this is likely to happen. "The day will come when the movie and music 
industries will keep closer eyes on what vloggers do with regard to 
copyright. There will be a few who will be very publicly sued. In the 
meantime, it feels like what we're doing is in a private little corner of 
the internet and nobody really cares until such time as vlogging begins 
to generate money." 

There are other weaknesses in the form. "The one frustration for me 
is the digital divide," says Diaz. "I can sit here and type how easy it is 
to get your videoblog up, but I'm talking about a small percentage of 
this world. If we can somehow work with people within these [under- 
served] communities and get their stories out, more people would be 
aware, and hopefully help. It's a real concern going into the future." 
Hodson thinks it's important to teach other media makers about vlogs 
in order to give them a means of expression that is not filtered through 
"five major companies." 



And all admit that the gender imbalance inherent to traditional 
filmmaking has crossed over to vlogging. "On a cultural level, women 
are not perceived as wanting to be technicians and are socialized and 
educated accordingly," notes McLaughlin. "For the same reasons, there 
are fewer women videobloggers than men. Hodson, who recently 
attended a conference for female bloggers in California 
(www.blogher.org/), doesn't see much of a difference between male and 
female works and thinks that perhaps the intimacy inherent to the 
form has simply been gendered as female. Still, as vlogging grows in 
notoriety, more estrogen is being added into its DNA. "The difference 
between a career in the film industry and that of a videoblogger is that 
a vlogger becomes a vlogger the moment they decide to become one," 
says McLaughlin. "There are no gatekeepers at the door to the vlogos- 
phere." No application or resume also means there is no glass ceiling. 
But there is work to be done to create the initial impulse. "We need to 
spur each other on and support one another," says Diaz, adding that 
she can't comprehend the gender disparity. "I'm not sure why that is. 
Video blogging is accessible to all people. Some of the content female 
vloggers put out is the most interesting right now." 

As for the future, McLaughlin believes that, artistically, "out of it 
will come the most honest, hard-hitting filmmaking the world has yet 
seen — because large sums of money create an obligation to make proj- 
ects as accessible to as many people as possible, and we're catering to a 
low common denominator." She also points to the larger impact vlog- 
ging may have on fostering essential media literacy. To learn to vlog is 
to understand the way that images are constructed and manipulated to 
make meaning. "Media enters our deepest consciousness with poten- 
tially deleterious unconscious effects. When you make a vlog, you 
become intensely conscious of media on a higher level, and that alone 
will change the world." And all concur that the capability for interna- 
tional dialogue is limitless. Teaching vlogging in the Bronx, I have wit- 
nessed firsthand the gratification that urban youth get from seeing 
their stories accessible to the world. This is the power that comes from 
vlogging's immediate and de-centralized nature — the direct equation 
between producing something and having people see it. We have yet to 
see how the trend will evolve or interact and/or interfere with main- 
stream media, but as Diaz says, "There's enough room on the table — 
all old media needs to do is pull up an extra chair." -k 



nodt.mterview2.mov 




J* — © (O 



3)fl)f9)(K ► 



Ryanne Hodson — up close and personal. 



34 The Independent I March 2006 



A 1980 demonstration caught on film by Paula 
Dekoeningsberg (camera) and Greta Schiller (sound). 



>-* 



::.!>• \* 







IUSH Hi 





(ITS US 



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emselves 

Women's organizations attempt to fill the void between 
where women are and where they should be 



BY ERICA BERENSTEIN 

Debra Zimmerman, executive director of Women 
Make Movies, says she looks forward to going out 
of business. Nicole Guillemet, director of the 
Miami International Film Festival, laughs heartily 
at the idea of scheduling the first men's-only film festival — just 
in case the day comes when films made by women overwhelm 
the market. "I hope it will come to that, no?" she muses. 

The truth is, despite how far we've come, filmmaking is still 
a man's world. Media coverage of women's progress in the film 
industry often points to success stories as evidence of systemic 
change, but Professor Martha Lauzen of San Diego State 
University, whose annual Celluloid Ceiling Report documents 
the employment of women behind the scenes, warns that this 
approach is misleading. Ten years ago, Lauzen began counting 
credits and calculating percentages, and found that women 
comprised five percent of directors in 2004 and seven percent in 



2005 — slightly less than half of the percentage in 2000. Read: 
It's worse now than it was six years ago. The report goes on: 
There were no women directors, executive producers, writers, 
cinematographers, or editors in 21 percent of the films released 
that year. But, it notes, "Not a single film failed to employ a man 
in at least one of these roles." 

"Everywhere you look you see the white man," says Hanelle 
Culpepper, who made her short film A Single Rose at the 
American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women, 
which trains on average eight women per cycle in narrative film- 
making; alumni include Victoria Hochberg ("Sex and the City," 
"Ally McBeal"), Maya Angelou (Down in the Delta, 1998), and 
Lesli Linka Glatter ("Grey's Anatomy," "The O.C."). Though 
she participated in a program designed specifically for women, 
Culpepper does not worry that her film will be labeled a 
"woman's" film. As she sees it, the only stamp on A Single Rose 



March 2006 I The Independent 35 




Filmmakers Deborah Garcia and Jane Alexander with Catherine 
Wyler, the artistic director of the High Falls Film Festival. 



'There is certainly no longer a 
stigma to being a woman." 
— Gait Neiderhoffer, Plum Pictures 




Nicole Guillemet addresses the press about the 2006 Miami 
International Film Festival. 



is that it is a student film made with the help of AFI, and she doubts 
that films made as part of API's DWW could ever be pigeon-holed 
because "the scripts that get into the program really cross the gamut... 
dramas, crazy, raunchy comedies." 

What does it mean then for a film to be dubbed a "woman's film"? 
According to Guillemet, who directs one of the larger international 
film festivals in the United States and worked for 18 years at Sundance 
as co-director, there is a misguided perception that women's films do 
not bring in as much money. She says that a film being labeled 
"women's" — which usually means directed by a woman or supported 
by a women-specific group — isn't a determining factor for the general 
public or the industry. The only realm in which such a woman's film 
might suffer, according to Guillemet, is distribution. Celine Rattray, 
one of three women who founded Plum Pictures, currently in produc- 
tion for The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt with Martin Scorsese and 
Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, says, "Both the world of 
distribution and the world of agents remain very male dominant," 
meaning that they are still filled with men interested in male-driven 
plots. 

This is exactly why, in the early '80s, Women Make Movies redi- 
rected its focus from training to distribution. At that time there were 
several initiatives that trained women, but once their films were made, 
women had a very hard time finding distributors and successfully pub- 
licizing their films. WMM started distributing Healthcaring, reminis- 
cent of the once controversial classic book, Our Bodies, Ourselves and 
directed by Denise Bostrom and Jane Warrenbrand in 1976, which no 
other distributor would pick up. But the project was so successful that 
other filmmakers including Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust, 1991) 
and Kimberly Peirce {Boys Don't Cry, 1999), later approached WMM 
to help them with distribution. 

After 34 years, WMM is recognized worldwide as the most impor- 
tant distributor of films by and about women. WMM also maintains a 
fiscal sponsorship service through which filmmakers can apply for 
grants that require 501(c) 3 tax-exempt status. The Women Make 
Movies workshop series covers topics such as budgeting, marketing, tax 
and legal issues, and festival strategy, and WMM has held screenings all 
over the world. 

Other organizations that distribute media made by women include 
Cinenova located in the U.K. (www.cinenova.org.uk), which was start- 
ed in 1991 as the merger of two feminist distributors: Circles and 
Cinema of Women. Groupe Intervention Video in Montreal 
(www.givideo.org) was started in 1975 by French Canadian filmmak- 
ers who were dissatisfied with their distribution options. The organiza- 
tion produces projects and rents equipment. Joanie 4 Jackie 
(www.joanie4jackie.com) is a free, alternative distribution system for 
female filmmakers, and accepts every film that is submitted. 

In fact, there are now so many organizations and festivals with 
financial, technical, and distribution-related resources that support 
women's work that the question arises: Is it necessary to use gender as 
a qualifier? What role can — and do — these groups play in contempo- 
rary independent filmmaking? 

Rattray believes that festivals and initiatives that support female 
filmmakers are good sources for networking, information, and support 
for entrepreneurs. She gets her medical insurance through the New 
York Women in Film & Television, an industry association that is part 



36 The Independent I March 2006 




of a network of 40 international women-in-film chapters. And when 
Plum's first film, The Baxter, was released in 2004, NYWIFT helped 
with marketing initiatives. Aside from that affiliation, however, Plum 
Pictures of which Gait Niederhoffer and Daniela Taplin are also part- 
ners, does not rely on support from women-specific organizations and 
has never submitted work to a women's festival, choosing instead to 
focus on top-tier festivals like Berlin, Cannes, Toronto, and Sundance. 
"There is certainly no longer a stigma to being a woman," says 
Niederhoffer. But labeling films or organizations as "women-only," she 
says, is "a way of marginalizing yourself into a category." But she thinks 
that ultimately organizations and festivals that showcase women in an 
industry where so few females are recognized "are necessary, because it's 
true." 

Executive director and curator Ariella Ben-Dov of the MadCat 
Women's International Film Festival, which shows experimental and 
independent films and videos by women directors, says that it is essen- 
tial that while highlighting films by women, "you do not ghettoize 
these works." "As an African American filmmaker, you do think about 
that," says Culpepper, who adds that creating separate categories at fes- 
tivals can serve as a marketing tool, but, "you also wonder if it feels like 



the second class section; these films weren't good enough to be in the 
general program... There are certain sections that executives just don't 
bother to go to because they assume it's not as good as the rest." When 
Zimmerman arrived at the 2003 Manchester Film Festival in Vermont, 
she found that the films and panels on women in the industry had been 
programmed at the same time as Digital Day, a set of discussions on 
digital technology. It was like "scheduling Crossing Jordan against 
Monday Night Football." She was surprised to hear that Gerald Levin, 
the former CEO of Time Warner, opted for the women's panel over the 
techie one. 

Films directed by women often fall outside the hyper-marketed 
blockbuster genre, which means they must depend on other ways to 
reach the public. There are currently almost 40 festivals that showcase 
work exclusively by female filmmakers. Guillemet explains that bring- 
ing this work to a broader audience — 30 percent of the films in the 
Miami International Film Festival's program are directed by women — 
is a way of educating viewers, and perhaps distributors as well, since 
high turnout at women's festivals can serve as proof that there is an 
audience for a particular film. "But ultimately it goes back to the first 
rule," she explains. "Good films get sold." More importantly, any film, 



March 2006 I The Independent 37 




The staff of Women Make Movies helps to facilitate the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of indie films by and about women. 



"needs to be showcased in a good way, in front of a good audience, with 
people in the industry being invited — good press." And while these fes- 
tivals publicize works that might not otherwise get seen, Niederhoffer 
questions whether these types of festivals actually provide a platform 
for distribution. Guillemet says it would take a very special film festi- 
val to serve a woman's market. 

Catherine Wyler, artistic director of the High Falls Film Festival in 
High Falls, New York, says that she tries to attract a wider audience by 
highlighting the role of women in many different aspects of produc- 
tion, so films directed by men do make their way into the program- 
ming. Initially Wyler was concerned that a focus on women was too 
narrow. "The problem with film festivals these days is that there are just 
so many of them and the perception in the industry is that they are all 
the same," she says. But since its inception in 2001, High Falls has 
carved a niche for itself because, unlike many festivals, it does not 
revolve around distribution. Instead the goal of the festival is to help 
women get more work in a greater variety of positions throughout the 
industry by affording them a chance to make connections and gain 
exposure. 

Women Make Movies ensures that the work they distribute goes 
beyond the audience that seeks out work affiliated with an organization 
called Women Make Movies by focusing on broadcast markets. In the 
past year they have had ten projects shown on cable and PBS, and some 
foreign television stations. "When [people] are flipping through chan- 
nels and deciding what they want to watch on television, it doesn't real- 
ly have to do with Women Make Movies," says Zimmerman. 

38 The Independent I March 2006 



"There is a changing of the guards that is happening very slowly," 
says Niederhoffer, "but I think that the inherent power struggle 
between men and women just remains an ongoing issue for women in 
any industry." This is especially true, according to Rattray, because as a 
producer, some of the same qualities that are admired in men — per- 
sistence and tough negotiating skills — are not appreciated in women. 

Taplin says that she still has to put up with, "something as little as 
[a man] calling you 'sweetheart' in a meeting with five people," but that 
this is something you learn to deal with as a producer because, "the 
product you are working on is what ultimately will dispel that type of 
thing." She believes that the New York independent scene is a very 
open market, and that aside from the seemingly impenetrable realm of 
directors, women are not held down by stereotypes. Still, she and her 
partners never downplay the importance of outward confidence: They 
always enter a set explaining, "This is the money we've raised. This is 
the project we've shepherded, and this is our film." 

Increasing women's presence in the film industry is also important 
because it introduces male filmmakers to women's work and presents 
women filmmakers as colleagues, role models, and competitors. 
"Frankly," says Rahdi Taylor of California Newsreel, "the bottom line 
is that in 'Indiewood,' which is increasingly less 'indie' and more 
'wood,' women and people of color are still frightfully underrepresent- 
ed." Of course, as the women of Plum Pictures maintain, women will 
"make it" no matter what the landscape. Fifty-one percent of the world 
population will find ways to succeed, although it's clear that the help 
and support provided by organizations dedicated to the fight will be 
essential tools along the way. * 



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The National Geographic-sponsored All Roads test takes the 
survival of indigenous films into its own hands 



By Simone Swink 



Of the 1,150 festivals worldwide, only 
one is devoted to encouraging, fund- 
ing, and showcasing indigenous film- 
makers. Launched in 2004, the National 
Geographic All Roads Film Project, based in 
Washington DC with screenings also in Los 
Angeles, has sponsored a diverse array of films 
from Lu Chuan's Kekexili: Mountain Patrol 
about the Tibetan volunteers who battle death 
and starvation to save the Chiru antelope, to 
Ismael Ferroukhi's Le Grand Voyage about a 
conflict between a father and his son during 
their road trip to Mecca. 

Operating under the auspices of the 
National Geographic Society, All Roads is 
uniquely positioned to use the resources of the 
institution to reach out to indigenous com- 



munities. For over a century, the writers and 
photographers of National Geographic maga- 
zine have eloquently recorded the stories of 
people around the world as well as document- 
ed languages, funded field research, and 
explored unknown terrain. Now, All Roads 
allows individuals in indigenous communities 
to record and therefore to preserve their own 
stories on film. "National Geographies goal is 
communicating ideas around our collective 
global cultural heritage and the more places 
that we can do an event the better," says Mark 
Bauman, All Roads festival and project direc- 
tor. 

Bauman says that the festival was a way "to 
get people to think of cultural extinction 
around the planet. Hundreds, maybe even 



thousands of languages have been lost, whole 
systems of alternative agriculture, knowledge 
about using medicinal plants. Showcasing 
spectacular stories from those communities 
was a way to catch up." 

Two Cars/One Night, which screened at the 
first festival (in both DC and LA), is a short 
film about a young girl and boy who meet in 
the parking lot outside a New Zealand pub. 
Maori director Taika Waititi, who Bauman 
calls "a late '20s filmmaker out of New 
Zealand as sophisticated as anyone working in 
the business," says the festival provided the 
opportunity for his film to reach people who 
might never have seen it otherwise. The short 
went on to be nominated for an Oscar, and 
the All Roads board thought so highly of 



March 2006 I The Independent 39 




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Waititi that they helped fund his third film, 
Tama Tu, with one of their first seed grants. 
That short, about a group of Maori soldiers 
in World War II, screened at Sundance in 
January 2005, and Waititi is now directing 
his first feature, Eagle vs Shark. 

Arna's Children, which screened at the 
2004 festival, was made by the son of a 
Palestinian and an Israeli who followed a 
group of boys that had been taught art and 
drama by his mother, Arna, in the West 
Bank. Much of the film was shot during the 
boys' childhood and adolescence from 1989 
to 1996 when their lives were dominated by 
Israeli occupation of the region. Years later, 
the filmmaker revisited them to find that two 
were dead — one had committed a suicide 
bombing attack in 2001 and the other was 
killed in the Battle of Jenin. A third boy had 
grown into a resistance leader while another 
student had matured into a respected actor. 
Lisa Burgueno, All Roads' festival manager, 
notes, "The result was perspective into the 
Palestinian/Israeli conflict and into the spe- 
cific circumstances that led one of these boys 
to become a suicide bomber." The 
Washington DC audience gave the film a 
standing ovation, which surprised Burgueno. 
"It was a tough subject, but that film made a 
very deep impression on me about the way 
these films can break barriers and stereo- 
types." 

Not every community has spawned film- 
makers capable of creating films like Arna's 
Children and the Oscar-nominated short, Two 
Cars/One Night. At least, not yet. But the All 
Roads seed grants (which range from $1,000 
to $10,000) also extend to filmmakers who 
can show they have been authorized to speak 
for a particular community. 

Patty Kim, a 2005 grant recipient, notes, 
"when you tell your subjects that you have the 
support and faith of an institution like 
National Geographic, it goes a long way. 
Giving funding is an act of faith and is so 
interpreted by the filmmakers. It's much more 
than money in the end." Kim and Chris 
Sheridan, whose Abduction: The Megumi 
Yokota Story premiered at Slamdance this year, 
received a seed grant from All Roads last year. 
Their film documents the kidnapping of a 13- 
year-old Japanese girl by North Korean spies 
in 1 977. Yokota disappeared on her way home 
from school and, for years, her parents had no 
idea what happened to her. Eventually, the 




From the Brazilian film, Rocinha, An Orphan Town, which screened at All Roads. 



North Koreans admitted their spies had kid- 
napped Megumi and 23 others. 

Burgueno recalls "an animated series called 
Raven Tales produced a 30-minute pilot which 
they then used to approach distributors. The 
pilot, along with our backing, led to a suc- 
cessful pickup on Canadian television." That 
animated production is now the only one cre- 
ated by a majority-owned First Nations com- 
pany. 

"Without the support of All Roads, we 
could not have finished the pilot episode of 
Raven Tales," says the film's director Chris 
Kientz. "We would not have received the 
exposure in places like New Zealand, the UK, 
Japan, and Germany, which got us our broad- 
cast commitments and funding to continue." 

In fact, Kientz's experience with All Roads 
was so satisfying that he joined the peer 
review committee. Other grantees and 
entrants have also joined All Roads' advisory 
board and grant review committee, along with 
Spike Lee, Shekhar Kapur, Kiefer Sutherland, 



and Forest Whitaker. 

As a result of the festival's success, Bauman 
and his team no longer have to persuade peo- 
ple that an audience for these films exists. 
"We've had more requests than we can han- 
dle," he says. And not just for funding. 
Venues around the world are clamoring to 
host the festival. Unlike most festivals that 
struggle to keep their audiences coming back 
year after year, All Roads is expanding. 

"Convincing people that there was really 
hip interesting modern relevant work coming 
out of these [indigenous] communities was 
tough in the first year but there was also plen- 
ty of curiosity." Kientz finds that as he talks 
about All Roads in new places like Santa Fe 
and Vancouver the feedback he receives tells 
him more about the niche of the festival. "We 
offer new insights into distinctive voices from 
somewhere other than the United States. And 
we're finding there is a huge audience for these 
films," he says. 

Nearly two decades of international report- 



March 2006 I The Independent 41 



June 17-24 2006 
at Vassar College 
Poughkeepsie, 
New York 

Register Online at 
www.flahertyseminar.org 



creative 
demolition 

the 52nd Robert Flaherty Film Seminar 
guest curators: ariella Ben-Dov & Steve Seid 




The U ROBERT 

FLAHERTY 

FILM SEMINAR 

212448-0457 
ifs@flahertyseminar.org 




CALL FOR FILMS 



Jewish Women's Film Festival 
Sunday, November 1 2, 2006 
Subject: Experiences of Jewish women. 

Films never exhibited commercially 
in New York Metropolitan Area. 
All categories, any style or genre. 
"Best Film" Award. 

Deadline: July 31,2006 

Entry Fee: $35.00 per film 

Format: DVD, 35mm, Beta Sp 
Preview DVD orVHS 

Contact: A. Landau 

(212) 687-5030, ext.33 
alandau@ncjwny.org 






Presented by 
N C J > Eleanor Leff Jewish Women's Resource Center 

wish Women * * 

rYork section National Council of Jewish Women New York Section 




From Rocinha, An Orphan Town 

ing gave Bauman the unique perspective to 
create and run this festival. During his exten- 
sive career at ABC News, he ran the Latin 
American bureau out of Miami and also 
served as deputy bureau chief in Moscow dur- 
ing some of the regions most tumultuous 
years. From Bosnia and Iraq to Lebanon and 
Central Africa, Bauman covered the world 
befote joining the National Geographic 
Channel in 2000. He helped launch the chan- 
nel's daily news broadcast, which eventually 
morphed into a daily documentary broadcast. 
But the power of all those news stories never 
had the impact he sought. "After almost two 
decades in the news business, it's possible to 
do thousands of stories about a place without 
changing the way people feel about it. But one 
great feature film like Whale Rider creates a 
seismic shift in perceptions about New 
Zealand, because film engages the heart." 

The desire to see how other people live is 
universal. Exactly the reason Bauman thinks 
the festival is so successful. "You can read a 
hundred stories about Iran or New Zealand 
and the Maori communities there and not 
really get a sense of them as human beings," 
he says. But one well-made film can create a 
connection, which makes you want "to get to 
know these people." * 

Applications for funding are reviewed 
quarterly by the All Roads board. See 
www.nationalgeographic.com/allroads for more 
information. 



42 The Independent I March 2006 



n' 



03 

o 

o 




You Say You' 



Jonathan D. Krane 
outlines his plan for 
fixing the movie- 
making industry 



By Ethan Alter 

A Revolutionary Approach to the Art and 
Science of Moviemaking: A Treatise on Fixing 
the Accidental Industry, by Jonathan D. 
Krane, 432 pages. (Creative Vision Publishing; 
2005) 

"What's the matter with Hollywood?" has 
been a popular industry question since... well, 
since the very beginning of Hollywood. But 
the chatter swelled to new levels in 2005 as 
reports of lackluster box-office returns and 
diminishing attendance had studio execs 
quaking in their Armani suits. At this point, it 
almost doesn't matter whether the slump is 
real or simply the product of hyperbolic 
entertainment journalists. The perception 
both inside and outside of Hollywood is that 
the film industry is in trouble and dramatic 
changes need to occur to ensure its survival. 




That's why companies like Mark Cuban's 
HDNet Films ate experimenting with new 
distribution patterns, namely releasing movies 
simultaneously on movie screens, DVD, and 
pay-TV; major studios are shortening the cin- 
ema-to-DVD release window; and block- 
bustets like Superman Returns (2006) are post- 
ing behind-the-scenes videos online. 
Everyone is trying to figure out how the 
industry can get its groove back. It would be 
nice if there was someone to tell Hollywood 
exactly what it's doing wrong, but who is bold 
(or crazy) enough to claim that he/she alone 
holds the key to Hollywood's salvation? 

Enter Jonathan Krane, veteran movie pro- 
ducer (Phenomenon, 1986; Look Who's 
Talking, 1989), talent manager, educator, and 
author of the ambitiously titled new book A 
Revolutionary Approach to the Art and Science 



of Moviemaking: A Treatise on Fixing the 
Accidental Industry. Written partly as a text- 
book for his recently founded film school. 
The Krane Academy of Motion Pictures, A 
Revolutionary Approach is a 400-page diattibe 
against the modern film industry or, as Krane 
dubs it, the Accidental Industry. Why acci- 
dental? "Because it [has] no articulated, pub- 
lished, or even agreed-upon processes, activi- 
ties, forces, powers, job functions, rites of pas- 
sage ot even any definitions of commonly 
used words," he writes in his introduction. In 
other words, Hollywood is basically making 
up the business of filmmaking as it goes 
along. To Krane, this is a significant departute 
from traditional business models, which oper- 
ate on a clearly defined set of principals and 
objectives. In contrast, the only forces he sees 
guiding the film industry are of the 



March 2006 I The Independent 43 



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FREDERICK WISEMAN 

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with a Foreword by Frederick Wiseman 

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Darwinian and Kafkaesque variety. "I call... 
the Accidental Industry 'Darwinian' 
because it mimics the jungle dynamics of 
Darwin's Fundamental Principle known as 
'The Survival of the Fittest,'" he writes, 
adding that its "unpredictability, irrational- 
ity and terrifying endless distortions and 
dangers" also give it a Kafkaesque hue. 
Krane's overarching point is that the indus- 
try's lack of strong guiding principles is at 
the root of its myriad of problems. And if 
the studios don't change their ways soon, 
their decline will continue unchecked. 

Naturally, Krane has a few modest pro- 
posals for what those guiding principles 
should be. Forget the Accidental Industry, 
he says, Hollywood needs to be reborn as 
the "New Art and Science," a new and 
improved approach to filmmaking built on 
Five Fundamental Principles (as you can 
probably tell, capital letters abound in the 
book). These principles break down as fol- 
lows: 

1) Production is five chronological stages 
from finding the idea to completing post- 
production. 

2) The independent film has a heretofore 
unarticulated definitive meaning and is a 
dying art form that can be saved. 

3) All power comes from three sources: 
talent, production, and distribution. 

4) The cash flow, cash-on-cash return, 
and net profits from a film are, in fact, eas- 
ily defined and rarely generated, making 
most films failures. 

5) Mastering creative problem solving is 
different in this industry than others. 

Each of these points is discussed at 
length in the book's corresponding five sec- 
tions, but Krane's general approach to the 
movie industry can basically be summed up 
as: Shut up and let the producer do his job. 
In the New Art and Science, the producer is 
God or at least the closest you can get to it; 
he or she is the "one person without whom 
the entire industry would cease to exist." 

This may sound remarkably self-cen- 
tered, but it's consistent with the way Krane 
has operated for much of his career. He first 
broke into Hollywood in 1981 as the presi- 
dent and CEO of Blake Edwards 
Entertainment, an independent production 
company he founded with the director 
Blake Edwards. During his tenure there, he 



44 The Independent I March 2006 



served a dual role as both Edwards' producer - 
and manager, which meant that he more or 
less controlled all aspects of the filmmaking 
process, from finding scripts to choosing writ- 
ers and actors to exploring profitable distribu- 
tion avenues. Krane continued this style of 
omnipotent producing at his subsequent 
companies Management Company 

Entertainment (later MCEG) and The Krane 
Group, where he oversaw the careers of — and 
produced films for — actors such as Kirstie 
Alley, Pierce Brosnan, and John Travolta. (In 
case you're wondering, yes, he's the guy who 
signed off on Battlefield Earth, 2000.) 

With his background, it's no wonder that 
Krane has such disdain for studio personnel 
who, in his experience, only seem to impede 
the creative process. In the New Art and 
Science though, everyone will work together 
to ensure that the producers vision is fully 
realized from the genesis of the idea to the 
ancillary release patterns. How exactly will 
this changeover happen? Well, Krane is a little 
vague on that point, although he does 
describe in great detail how the new industry 
will operate once it is up and running. It all 
starts with the producer finding the right idea. 
But wait! Even that's not quite as simple as it 
sounds. According to Krane, in order for an 
idea to be right (italics are his), it has to satis- 
fy nine creative criteria and six business crite- 
ria, which include certain commercial poten- 
tial and the ability to attract major stars. 
These right ideas can be found by reading 
books and magazines, paying attention to 
trends, watching TV, or simply flipping 
through a movie guide and jotting down titles 
that haven't been remade in awhile, (Krane 
confesses to using this particular method 
when he was first starting out.) One could 
argue that this approach isn't remarkably dif- 
ferent from the way Hollywood chooses its 
projects now. In fact, there's a lot about the 
New Art and Science that seems borrowed 
from the Accidental Industry. It's not "revolu- 
tionary," for example, to pick material that 
has been successful in the past or to enlist 
actors with proven marquee appeal. A true 
revolutionary would want to blaze new 
ground with completely new material and tal- 
ent. So the difference between the two 
approaches basically comes down to who calls 
the shots; in the Accidental Industry it's a free- 
for-all, but in the New Art and Science con- 
trol never leaves the producer's hands. 



The other crucial difference between the 
two methods is that in Krane's version of 
Hollywood everyone is unfailingly honest and 
willing to put art before money. More impor- 
tantly, getting your foot in the door is no 
longer a crapshoot; the New Art and Science 
will be open and accepting of newcomers, and 
career paths will emerge to guide people on 
their way. For instance, when a film is in pro- 
duction, rather than employ experienced 
department heads who might be set in their 
ways, Krane advises using a "talented second" 
who will appreciate the bump in job title and 
will be loyal to the producer throughout the 
shoot. So loyal, in fact, that he won't expect a 
raise and will continue to work with that pro- 
ducer again at the same reduced rate for the 
rest of their professional relationship. "For the 
past century, the movie industry [has] been [a] 
magnet for people who seek fame and fortune 
rather than gratification and fulfillment," 
Krane writes. "I wrote this book in part to 
demonstrate this problem and explain what 
the right motivations are and why they are 
right. The right motivations will motivate oth- 
ers to seek out the information and knowl- 
edge to determine what jobs are right for 
them and use them correctly, thus creating the 
trickle-up effect of this New Art and Science." 

On the surface, Krane's conception of the 
new Hollywood sounds ideal, particularly if 
you're a producer. At the same time, however, 
it's hard to escape the feeling that many of his 
proposals are wildly impractical, not to men- 
tion hopelessly naive. Towards the end of the 
book, Krane lays out his solutions to the two 
greatest problems he sees confronting 
Hollywood today: you can't test-market a film 
before it's made, and you can't know how 
much a movie will make before it opens. For 
the first problem, Krane suggests that produc- 
ers make a 30-minute trailer for a proposed 
feature and then show it to an audience to 
gauge their response. So far so good, but he 
also adds that the film's stars should appear in 
this mini-movie and that any computer-gen- 
erated imagery (CGI) sequences should be 
included in rough form as well. Not only does 
this plan operate on the assumption that the 
talent and crew have no scheduling conflicts 
(and why would they if they are truly in this 
for the art!), but it also takes for granted that 
the testing process always yields accurate 
results, something that has never been conclu- 
sively proved. His second idea is even wilder: 



To garner positive word-of-mouth for a film 
before it opens, Krane proposes that studios 
design an elaborate website that would 
broadcast a weekly three-hour show featuring 
live interviews with the producers, cast and 
studio executives (since, again, they won't 
have anything else to do), film clips, behind- 
the-scenes footage, and finally a Q&A with 
the show's host and the audience. The site 
would also host various contests, one would 
allow viewers to suggest ideas for posters and 
trailers, and another would reward people for 
telling their friends about the movie, obtain- 
ing signatures to "verity the conversation." 
Krane goes on to describe how the film's 
entire marketing process can be made avail- 
able online, by showing bits of studio mar- 
keting meetings and giving moviegoers a 
chance to vote for one of two potential trail- 
ers. Of course, this content will only be 
accessible to those visitors who've paid $10 to 
become "Studio Preferred Customers," a sta- 
tus that will reward them with, among other 
things, a free ticket to the movie at a theater 
of their choice and admission to that theater 
ahead of the general public. Aside from the 
cost and number of man-hours involved in 
this kind of operation, the idea that audi- 
ences will pay for access to a promotional 
website is hard to swallow. And again, there's 
no conclusive proof that a major web pres- 
ence guarantees higher ticket sales. Just look 
at www.kongisking.net; the heavily-publi- 
cized site featured regular — and free — pro- 
duction diaries with the director and cast of 
King Kong, and the movie still performed 
below expectations. 

It's clear that Krane's heart is in the right 
place, but he simply doesn't make an effective 
case for the New Art and Science. It doesn't 
help that he all-too-often comes across like a 
West Coast version of Donald Trump, casu- 
ally name-dropping famous friends and lav- 
ishly praising some of his more dubious proj- 
ects (his analysis of Swordfish (2001) suggests 
that he saw an entirely different movie than 
the rest of the country). He's at his best when 
he's simply drawing on his own industry 
experience to offer advice on how one goes 
about securing the rights to material or find- 
ing a reliable foreign distributor. Ultimately, 
that's the material that you'll find the most 
useful as you navigate your own way through 
the Accidental Industry. *' 



March 2006 I The Independent 45 



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BOSTON INTL FILM FESTIVAL, June 7-11, MA 
Deadline: March 17 final, shorts); March 31 
(final, features). This is a fest to reward artists 
for their individual talent & their expression 
through creativity. The fest strives to bring 
together local, nat'l & int'l filmmakers to Boston 
by promoting the world's most artistic & cre- 
ative independent & experimental film. Cats: 
feature, doc, short, student. Entry Fee: $35 
(shorts), $50 (features); $45 (final, shorts), $60 
(final, features). Contact: Jean Desire; (781) 
935-0871 ; mfo@bifilmfestival.com; 

www.bifilmfestival.com. 

BROOKLYN INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, June 2-11, NY 
Deadline: Nov. 30; March 15 (Final). The 
Brooklyn Int'l Film Festival (BIFF), was estab- 
lished in 1998 as the first int'l competitive film 
fest in New York. Since 2002, BIFF has been 
partnering w/ the Brooklyn Museum. In the 
effort of consolidating its int'l presence, BIFF 
has been developing solid ties w/ major over- 
seas film fests & distribution companies as 
well as successfully pursuing int'l sponsorship. 
Founded: 1997. Cats: feature, doc, experimen- 
tal, short, animation. Awards: Each yr. the festi- 
val awards a total of approx. US $50,000 in 
services & cash. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta 
SP, DV, DVD, CD-ROM, DigiBeta, HD cam. 
Preview on DVD or VHS (non-returnable). Entry 
Fee: $30; $50 (final). Contact: Marco Ursmo; 
(718) 388-4306; fax: 599-5039; 2006@wbff.org; 
www.wbff.org. 



CINEVEGAS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, June 9-1 7, NV 
Deadline: April 21. Cats: feature, doc, short, 
student. Awards: $10,000 - Grand Jury Award 
for Feature $1 ,000 - Grand Jury Award for Best 
Short. Formats: 35mm. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: all films under 50 min. $40 all films over 50 
mm.. Contact: Festival; (702) 992-7979; fax: 
898-51 91 ; info-cinevegas@cinevegas.com; 
www.cinevegas.com. 

CONNECTICUT GAY & LESBIAN FILM FESTIVAL, 

TBA, CT. Deadline: TBA. The Festival organiz- 
ers are committed to bringing outstanding gay, 
lesbian, bisexual, transgender, & queer film to 
the New England community. Cats: feature, 
doc, short. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, DVD, 
Video. Entry Fee: $10 (US); $15 (non US). 
Contact: Dan Millett; (860) 586-1 136; fax: (413) 
618-9312; glff@yahoo.com; www.ctglff.org. 

CRESTED BUTTE REEL FEST, August 9-13, CO 
Deadline: Feb. 15; March 31 (final), a competi- 
tive short film fest focusing on films under 40 
mm. & documentary films under 60 mm. The 
Festival is particularly interested in new works 
which are interpreted creatively, that have a 
clarity of vision & are of high production quality 
Founded: 1998. Cats: short, student, doc, ani- 
mation, experimental. Awards: Juried film, & 
audience awards incl. Gold ($500) & Silver 
$250) in each category. The BOB Award ($150 
plus handcrafted award) rewards the entry that 
pushes the envelope the farthest. The Grand 
Prix Award ($500) is a pre-juned award given to 



the Best Film of the Festival, which can be 
from any of the four cats. Formats: 35mm, 
Beta, 16mm, 3/4", 1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS 
(NTSC) or DVD. Entry Fee: $40; $50 (final). 
Contact: Eney Jones, Exec. Dir.; (970) 349- 
2600; fax: 349-1384; mfo@cbreelfest.com; 
www.crestedbuttereelfest.com. 

DA VINCI FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, July 14-16, 
OR. Deadline: Jan. 15; Feb. 28; March 30 
(final). Fest is looking for original works not 
exceeding 30 mm. in length (documentaries 
can only be a max of 50 min.) Submissions in 
three main cats: K-12, college & independent. 
Founded: 1988. Cats: short, any style or genre. 
Awards: Awards given in each category. 
Formats: film, video, digital. Preview on VHS 
(NTSC only). Entry Fee: college/indie $20, $35, 
$50; K-12 $10, $15, $20. Contact: Sue 
Queisser; (541 ) 752-5584 / 757-6363; fax: (541) 
754-7590; davincifilmfest@aol.com; 

www.davincidays.org/filmfestival. 

DANCING FOR THE CAMERA: INT'L FESTIVAL OF 
FILM & VIDEO DANCE, TBA, NC. Deadline: March 
14 (early) April 14 (final). Fest solicits dance- 
related work for juried public screenings at the 
American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. 
Founded: 1996. Cats: doc, short, experimental, 
student. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
$25. Contact: American Dance Festival; (212) 
586-1925; fax: 397-1196; adfny@american 
dancefestival.org; www.americandancefesti 
val.org. 

EPFC Youth Film Festival, May 20-21, CA. 
Deadline: April 1 . Fest features works by film- 
makers 25 years & younger. Cats: short, any 
style or genre, youth media, animation. 
Formats: DV, 16mm, Mmi-DV, 1/2", DVD, Super 
8. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Echo Park Film Center/ Lisa Marr; 
(213)484-8846; 

echoparkfilmcenter@hotmail.com; 
www.echoparkfilmcenter.org. 

FEAR NO FILM SHORT FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, 

June 23-26, UT. Deadline: March 1 1 . Part of the 
Utah Arts Festival in Salt Lake City. Cats: short, 
doc, feature, animation, experimental, music 
video, any style or genre, youth media. VHS, 
mini-DV, or DVD. Contact: Festival; (801) 322- 
2428; film@uaf.org; www.uaf.org. 



46 The Independent I March 2006 



FILM LIFE'S AMERICAN BLACK FILM FESTIVAL, 

July 13-17, FL Deadline: April 8. Festival is 5 
days of independent films, panels, workshops, 
Hollywood premieres, live entertainment & the 
ABFF Awards Dinner. Filmmakers, actors, 
industry executives, journalists & the film-lov- 
ing public form a creatively charged atmos- 
phere on South Beach that leads to serious 
business. Fest dubs itself as "the premiere 
int'l black film market & retreat." Founded: 
1997. Cats: Feature, Short, doc. Formats: All 
formats. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $30. 
Contact: Festival; (212) 966-2411; fax: 966- 
2219; abff@thefilmlife.com; www.abff.com. 

HAWAII OCEAN FILM FESTIVAL, Spring, HI 
Deadline: April 1 . Fest featurs films about the 
marine environment, ocean recreation & our 
cultural connections to the sea. The fest incls. 
two divisions: Student & Amatuer. Cats: fea- 
ture, doc, short, student, youth media. VHS 
(NTSC). Entry Fee: $10. Contact: Meli Sandler; 
(808) 826-4581; h20film@yahoo.com; 
www.hawaiioceanfilmfestival.org. 

HOLLYWOOD FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 18-24, CA 
Deadline: March 31. Annual fest seeks to 
bridge the gap between emerging filmmakers 
& established Hollywood. Founded: 1997. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, animation. Awards: 
Winners get access to buyers, cash, & VIP 
passes . Formats: 16mm, 35mm, video. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $55. Contact: 
Carlos de Abreu; (310) 288-1882; fax: 475- 
01 93; awards@hollywoodawards.com; 

www.hollywoodfestival.com. 

KANSAS CITY GAY & LESBIAN FILM + VIDEO 
FESTIVAL, July 20-27, MO. Deadline: TBA. 
Largest LGBT film fest in the Midwest accepts 
films/videos of all types & lengths. Cats: fea- 
ture, doc, short, any style or genre. Preview on 
VHS, DVD. Entry Fee: Shorts: $15, $25 (final); 
features: $25, $35 (final). Contact: Festival; 
lisaevans@kcgayfilmfest.org; www.kcgayfilm 
fest.org. 

LOWER WEST SIDE FILM FESTIVAL, April 22-27, 
NY. Deadline: Feb. 1 5; March 1 (final). An alter- 
native exhibition opportunity for emerging film 
artists & multimedia artists. The Festival will 
feature a minimum of eight screenings show- 
casing more than 50 alternative filmmakers at 




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Collective: Unconscious & other venues in 
Lower Manhattan. Works 30 mm. or under. 
Cats: doc, short, animation, experimental, any 
style or genre. Formats: 1/2", DVD, Mini-DV, 
16mm, Super 8. preview VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: $25; $35 (final). Contact: Collective: 
Unconscious; lwsff@weird.org; 

www.weird.org/LWSFF. 

MAINE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, July 14-23, ME 
Deadline: April 30. A leading New England 
regional film fest w/ an exceptional emphasis 
on int'l productions. Festival seeks features & 
shorts "shot in Maine or w/a significant Maine 
focus." Recent fest guests & winners of 
MIFF's Mid-Life Achievement Award incl. Sissy 
Spacek, & Terrence Malick. Founded: 1998. 
Cats: Feature, Short, doc. Awards: Audience 
Award (Best Feature). Formats: 35mm, 3/4", 
Beta SP, 16mm, S-VHS, 1/2", Beta, DigiBeta, 
DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $35; $45 
(final). Contact: MIFF; (207) 861-8138; fax: 872- 
5502; info@miff.org; www.miff.org. 

MAUI FILM FESTIVAL, June 14-18, HI. Deadline: 
March 1 ; April 1 (FINAL). Compassionate & life- 
affirming storytelling in exemplary films from 
any & everywhere on earth. Founded: 1999. 
Cats: feature, short, animation, experimental, 
children. Awards: Silversword Awards; 
Audience, Feature Dramatic, Short, Feature 
Doc. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, DVD. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: No entry Fee. 
Contact: Barry Rivers, Festival Director; 
(808)579-9244;fax:579-9552; mauifilmfesti 
val@mauifilmfestival.com; www.mauifilmfesti 
val.com. 

NEW JERSEY INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Spring TBA, 
NJ. Deadline: April 1 . Annual fest showcases 
the best in independent film & video, featuring 
premiere screenings of award-winning works, 
seminars, panels discussions & guest appear- 
ances. Max. film age is 24 months, no repeat 
entries. Founded: 1996. Cats: animation, short, 
experimental, feature, doc, any style or genre, 
children, family, youth media, student, music 
video. Awards: Over $4,000 in cash & prizes. 
Formats: 16mm, 35mm, 3/4", Beta SP, Hi8, 
1/2", S-VHS, DV, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $35-$65. Contact: Rutgers Film Co- 
op/NJMAC; (732) 932-8482; fax: 932-1935; 
njmac@aol.com; www.njfilmfest.com. 

NEW YORK INT'L LATINO FILM FESTIVAL, TBA, NY 



Deadline: March 10. Festival presents the 
works of Latino artists & people of Latin 
American descent. The fests goal is to "braid 
together Latinos in Hollywood & independent 
film industry, along w/ aficionados & students 
of film & the arts." Founded: 2000. Cats: 
Feature, Doc, Short, Student. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Video. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $20. 
Contact: Festival; (212) 726-2358; fax: 307- 
7445; info@nylatinofilm.com; www.nylati 
nofilm.com. 

NEWPORT INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, June 6-11, Rl 
Deadline: Jan 6; April 2 (FINAL). This Festival 
aims for stellar programming & claims that it 
has "cemented its reputation as one of the 
most exciting & exclusive fests of its kind." 
Founded: 1998. Cats: Feature, Doc, Short, 
Animation. Awards: Juried awards. Formats: 
35mm, Beta SP, DigiBeta. Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $30 (shorts); $40 (features & 
docs) . Contact: Sky Sitney, Festival director; 
(646) 442-2082; programming@newportfilm 
festival.com; www.newportfilmfestival.com. 

PHILADELPHIA INT'L GAY & LESBIAN FILM 
FESTIVAL, July 13-25, PA. Deadline: April 28. 
Competitive fest screening int'l features, docu- 
mentaries, & shorts, w/ cash prizes for both 
jury & audience awards. Cats: feature, short, 
doc, children, animation. Awards: Audience 
Award, Best Feature ($1,000); Audience 
Award, Gay Male Short ($500); Audience 
Award, Lesbian Short ($500); Jury Award, Best 
Feature ($500); Jury Award, Doc ($500); Jury 
Award, Lesbian Short ($250); Jury Award, Gay 
Male Short ($250). Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Festival; (215)733- 
0608 ext. 249; fax: 733-0668; 
rmurray@phillyfests.com; 
www.phillyfests.com. 

REAL TO REEL FILM FESTIVAL, July 19-22 
Deadline: March 30, April 30 (final). Fest 
encourages Independent film artists of all gen- 
res & skill levels to submit work to this int'l 
competition, which lets students, amateurs & 
professionals exhibit their work. Founded: 
2000. Cats: doc, short, animation, feature, stu- 
dent. Awards: Best of show in all cats. 
Formats: 1/2", DVD. VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
$35 (Pro) $15 (Student/Amateur); final:$50 
(Pro) $25 (Student/Amateur). Contact: Paul 
Foster; (704)484-2787; fax: (704) 481-1822; 
ccarts@shelby.net; www.real toreelfest.com. 



RURAL ROUTE FILM FESTIVAL, July 20-24, NY 
Deadline: Jan. 15; March 10 (final). Festival has 
been created to highlight works that deal w/ 
rural people & places. Works that incl. alterna- 
tive country, country western & folk music are 
encouraged. For the on tour Rural Route Film 
Festival, please email filmfest@ruralroute- 
films.com w/TOUR REQUEST in the subject 
heading & contact info in the text. Founded: 
2002. Cats: feature, doc, short, animation, 
experimental. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, Beta, 
mini-DV, DVD. preview on VHS (NTSC). Entry 
Fee: $30-45 (final)features (40 mm plus); $10- 
20 (final) shorts. Contact: Alan Webber; (718) 
389-4367; filmfest@ruralroutefilms.com; 
www.ruralroutefilms.com. 

SILVERDOCS: AFI/DISCOVERY CHANNEL DOC FILM 
FESTIVAL, June 13-18, MD. Deadline: Jan. 27; 
March 3 (final). Showcasing over 80 of the best 
new feature & short documentaries from 
around the world. A 3-Day Int'l Doc 
Conference- pitch to dozens of buyers & pro- 
gram executives. All in Washington, DC, where 
politics, arts & media converge. Cats: doc, any 
style or genre. Awards: Awards totaling over 
$30,000 in cash & prizes.. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $25 (short), $30 (feature); $30 (short, 
final), $35 (feature final). Contact: Festival; 
(301)495-6776; fax: 495-6777; mfo@silver 
docs.com; www.silverdocs.com or 

Withoutabox.com. 

ST. LOUIS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, TBA, MO 
Deadline: TBA. Annual fest brings together 
American indies, horizon-expanding int'l films & 
mainstream studio films to audiences prior to 
commercial release. Cats: Short, Doc, Feature, 
Animation. Awards: Cash & non-cash prizes for 
Audience Choice Best Feature & Best Doc, 
New Filmmakers Emerging Filmmaker Award, 
Interfaith Ecumenical Award, Best Foreign 
Film, & five short subject awards. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, BetaSP. Preview on VHS. Entry 
Fee: $50 (features); $25 (shorts, under 45 
mm.); $100/$50 (all late films); discount though 
Withoutabox. . Contact: Chris Clark, Artistic 
Director; (314) 454-0042, ext. 12; fax: 454- 
0540; chris@cinemastlouis.org; www.sliff.org. 

THE CINDY COMPETITION, Fall & Spring, CA LA 
Deadline: Mar. 31 (FINAL). Competition is one 
of world's longest-running audiovisual events. 
Founded in 1959 to honor talents of industrial 
filmmakers, fest now celebrates linear & mter- 



48 The Independent I March 2006 



active multimedia. Event held twice/yr. Fall 
event in San Diego, CA; spring in New Orleans, 
LA. Last yr's event drew over 3,700 entries 
from 29 countries, particularly in over 100 
broadcast & nonbroadcast cats. 13 regional 
competitions worldwide. Regional winners 
automatically eligible for final |udgmg for int'l 
fest. Founded: 1959. Cats: feature, doc, short, 
script, experimental, animation, music video, 
student, youth media, children, family, installa- 
tion, any style or genre. Awards: Gold, Silver, 
Bronze & honorable mention awards present- 
ed, along w/ John Cleese Comedy Award, 
Wolfgang Bayer Cinematography Award, 
Robert Townsend Social Issues Award, & oth- 
ers. Formats: Web, CD-ROM, 35mm, 16mm, 
1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: Varies 
w/ format. Contact: Festival; (760) 358-7000; 
fax: 358-7569; sheemonw@cindys.com; 
www.cindys.com. 

US INT'L FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL. June 3, IL 
Deadline: March 1. Founded in 1968, open to 
business, TV, doc, industrial, mfoal productions. 
Entries are grouped w/in 71 cats or 1 1 produc- 
tion techniques where they are judged in a 
two-tiered system. Productions must have 
been completed during the 18 months preced- 
ing the deadline. Founded: 1968. Cats: 
Children, Doc, Short, Feature, Any style or 
genre, family, TV, music video, script, anima- 
tion. Awards: The int'lly-known Gold Camera 
Award & Silver Screen Award . Formats: 1/2", 
U-matic, DVD, CD-ROM. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $160-$395+. Contact: Lee W. 
Gluckman, Jr.; (310) 540-0959; fax: (310) 316- 
8905; filmfestinfo@filmfestawards.com; 
www.filmfestawards.com. 

INTERNATIONAL 

ANTIMATTER: UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL. 

Sept. 22-30, Canada. Deadline: April 15; May 
31 (final). Annual int'l fest seeks "imaginative, 
volatile, entertaining & critical" films & videos. 
Antimatter is "dedicated to cinema as art vs. 
product, regardless of the subversive or dan- 
gerous nature of its content, stylistic concerns 
or commercial viability". Selected works may 
be included in upcoming int'l tours. Industrial, 
commercial & studio products ineligible. Max 
30 min., completed w/in past two years. 
Founded: 1998. Cats: any style or genre, short. 
Formats: 1/2", 16mm, DVD, Mini-DV, Super 8. 
Preview on VHS, DVD. Entry Fee: $10; $20 



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March 2006 I The Independent 49 



(final). Contact: Todd Eacrett, Director; (250) 
385-3327; fax: 385-3327; info@antimatter.ws; 
www.antimatter.ws. 

DOC OUTLOOK-INT'L MARKET, April 18-24, 
Switzerland. Deadline: March 15 (final), a.k.a 
Visions du Reel, seeking nonfiction works of all 
lengths that "through their form & aesthetic 
qualities provide personal & unusual descrip- 
tions & interpretations of past & present reali- 
ties of the world." Founded: 1969. Awards: 
2,000-15,000 Euros. Formats: DVD, 16mm, 
35mm, Beta. VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 20 Euros; 
100 Euros (screening fee). Contact: Festival; 
(41) 22 365 4455; fax: (41) 22 365 4450 ; doc 
nyon@visionsdureel.ch; 
www.visionsdureel.ch. 

DUBROVNIK INTL FILM FESTIVAL, May 24-28, 
Croatia. Deadline: March 1 . Dubrovnik is a tiny 
city but nonetheless uniquely impressive & his- 
torical, neatly enveloped in the blanket of thick 
stone fortress walls. Following the rich heritage 
of its location, this film fest strives to showcase 
the very best in the world of film arts & cultur- 
al treasures. Cats: doc, short, feature, music 
video. Awards: Various juried awards. Formats: 
35mm, Betacam SP PAL or NTSC, DVD-Region 



0,1 or 2, Digibeta PAL, . Preview on DVD or 
VHS. Entry Fee: $20 (shorts); $35 (features); 
other fees (check website for details). Contact: 
Program Department; (310)903-0483; pro 
gram@dubrovnikiff.org; www.dubrovnikiff.org. 

DURBAN INTL FILM FESTIVAL, June 14-25, South 
Africa. Deadline: March 15 (features). The fest 
screens over 200 of top films from around the 
world, incl. special reflections on 10 years of 
democracy in South Africa. Most of the films 
are premiere showings in this country. The fest 
also offers seminars & workshops featuring 
local & int'l filmmakers. The programme incls. 
screenings in township areas where cinemas 
are non-existent. Cats: doc, feature, short, ani- 
mation. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, VHS PAL, 
Beta SP PAL, DVD PAL. Preview on VHS or 
DVD (PAL or NTSC). Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Centre for Creative Arts; 01 1 +27 (0) 31 260 
2506; fax: 011 +27 (0) 31 260 3074; 
diff@ukzn.ac.za; www.cca.ukzn.ac.za. 

HIROSHIMA INTL ANIMATION FESTIVAL. August 
19-23, Japan. Deadline: April 1, Biennale test's 
philosophy is that animation brings together 
every & all kinds of art forms & cultures & as a 
result animation can express more humane 



feelings, such as kindness, love, & peace. 
Founded: 1985. Cats: animation, short. 
Awards: Grand Prize, Hiroshima Prize, Debut 
Prize, Renzo Kinoshita Prize, Special Int'l Jury 
Prizes, prizes for Outstanding Works. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, 3/4" (Low band), Beta Cam 
(NTSC). Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: no entry 
fee. Contact: Sayoko Kinoshita, Fest. Dir.; 81 82 
245-0245;fax: 245 0246; hiroanim@urban.ne.jp; 
www.urban.ne.jp/home/hiroanim/. 

INT'L FESTIVAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL CINEMA & 

VIDEO, June 5-11, Brazil. Deadline: March 15. 
The objective of FICA is to divulge, show, & 
award prizes to long, medium & short audiovi- 
sual productions, fiction, feature films or docu- 
mentary, focusing on environmental issues, 
produced anywhere in the world. Films must 
be produced after Jan 1 of previous year. 
Founded: 1999. Cats: feature, doc, short, TV, 
animation. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, Beta SP. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Eudaldo Guimaraes, Executive 
Manage; 01 1 55 62 229 3436; fax: 224-2642; 
fica@fica.art.br; www.fica.art.br. 

INT'L FILM FESTIVAL INNSBRUCK, May 24-28, 
Austria. Deadline: Mar. 31 . IFFI presents over 



AIVF presents: 



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50 The Independent I March 2006 






50 films from & about Africa, South America & 
Asia. Submitted films must be Austrian pre- 
mieres. Founded: 1992. Cats: Feature, Doc, 
Short, Animation. Awards: Tyrol Award (5,000 
E); Audience Award (1,000 E); French Cultural 
Institute's Francophone Award (1,000 E). 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm. Preview on VHS PAL. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Raimund Obkircher; 
011 43 512 57 85 00 14; fax: 57 85 00 13; 
info@iffi.at; www.iffi.at. 

0DENSE INTL FILM FESTIVAL, August 15-20, 
Denmark. Deadline: Apr. 1 . This Festival is an 
independent short film fest w/ both an int'l & a 
nat'l competition. This fest is designed to 
screen unusual short films of high quality w/ an 
original & imaginative sense of creative delight. 
Founded: 1975. Cats: experimental, feature, 
short, animation. Awards: Grand Prix, most 
imaginative, most surprising & special |ury 
prizes. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, Beta SP. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Festival; (011) 45 6613 1372; fax: 45 6591 
4318; off.ksf@odense.dk; www.filmfestival.dk. 

PARNU INT'L DOC & ANTHROPOLOGY FILM 
FESTIVAL, July 2-16, Estonia. Deadline: Apr. 1. 
The aim of the fest in general is to support cul- 



tural survival of peoples. Only documentary 
films & videos of high value & quality, recording 
human activities in social, historical or ecologi- 
cal context are accepted for competition 
screenings. Cats: doc. Awards: Grand Jury 
awards & Estonian People's award. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, DVD. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: None. Contact: Vaiko Edur; (011) 
372 44 30772; fax: 372 44 30774; vaiko@chap 
lin.ee;mark@chaplin.ee; www.chaplin.ee. 

PLANET FOCUS: TORONTO ENVIRONMENTAL FILM 
FESTIVAL, Nov. 1-5, Canada. Deadline: April 15; 
May 15. Fest recognizes that the "environ- 
ment" is contested terrain, therefore invites 
submissions in all genres that critically examine 
the concept of "environment" & challenge cur- 
rent human/nature relations. Additionally, the 
fest pays special consideration to works that 
push the boundaries of the accepted notions of 
'environment'; works that present cultural per- 
spectives that are under-represented in Canada 
& works that will have their world or Canadian 
premiere at fest. Cats: any style or genre. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP (PAL or 
NTSC), DigiBeta. VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $15; 
$20 (final). Contact: Festival; (416) 531-1769; 
mfo@planetmfocus.org; 



REVELATION PERTH INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, July 1 3- 
23, Australia. Deadline: Apr. 17. Australia's 
major alternative film fest. Fest seeks to bring 
to Oz the best in maverick spirit & individual 
filmic style. Founded: 1998. Cats: Doc only for 
2001, feature, doc, short, animation, experi- 
mental, music video, student. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Betacam SP, Beta SP, 1/2", DVD. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $20. Contact: 
Richard Sowada, Fest Dm; 011618 9335 2991 ; 
fax: 61 8 9335 1589; admin@revelationfilm 
fest.org; www.revelationfilmfest.org. 

SALENTO INTL FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 9-17, Italy 
Deadline: May 30; June 15 (final). This Festival 
promotes Italian & int'l independent films to 
the public, in recognition of the fact that movies 
are the most powerful form of cultural commu- 
nication & link between cultures & peoples. 
Cats: feature, doc, short. Awards: Grand Jury 
awards. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Digital. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $30-40 
(shorts/docs); $50-60 (features). Contact: SIFF; 
(818) 248-2349; fax: 248-1647; 

lnfo@salentofilmfestival.com; 
www.salentofilmfestival.com. 

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March 2006 I The Independent 51 




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FILM FESTIVAL, June 16-18, Canada. Deadline: 
March 31. Non-competitive fest dedicated to 
the exhibition of small gauge films, showcasing 
a wide range of work by first- time filmmakers 
& seasoned super-eighters. All entries must be 
shot on Super 8. Video will be screened only if 
original print isn't avail, or if the film was edited 
on video. 16mm blow-ups of super 8 films are 
also considered. Cats: any style or genre. 
Formats: super 8, silent super 8, super 8 w/ live 
accomampaniment, super 8 w/ sound, super8 
w/ audiocassette, Super 8 work on: 1/2", DVD, 
Mini-DV Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $5. 
Contact: Festival; splicethis@yahoo.com; 
www.splicethis.com. 

TAORMINA BNL FILM FESTIVAL, July 22-29, Italy 
Deadline: April 15. Cats: feature. Contact: 
Enrico Ghezzi; 39 9422-1142; fax: 39 9422- 
3348; info@taoarte.it; www.taorminafilmfest.it. 

VANCOUVER QUEER FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, 

August 7-17, Canada. Deadline: April 3. Annual 
event screens both int'l & local Canadian films 
& videos of interest to the lesbian, gay, bisexu- 
al, & transgendered communities. Festival 
screens work of all lengths & genres & incls. 
panels, workshops, & receptions providing a 
forum for the development of dialogue 
between LGBT people of all ethnicities, cul- 
tures, ages, abilities, & gender definitions. Fees 
paid for independent work screened. Founded: 
1989. Cats: any style or genre. Awards: Cash 
awards; audience awards.. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, 1/2", Beta SP, DV. Preview on VHS, 
NTSC only. Entry Fee: None. Contact: Michael 
Barrett, Director of Programming; (604) 
844-1615; fax: 844-1698; general@outon 
screen.com; www.outonscreen.com. 

WELLINGTON FILM FESTIVAL/AUCKLAND INT'L 
FILM FESTIVAL, July 13-30, New Zealand. 
Deadline: April 1 5. Noncompetitive fest, w/ a 
core program of 120 features (& as many 
shorts), fest simultaneously presents Auckland 
& Wellington Film Festivals & programs that 
travel to cities of Dunedm & Christchurch & 
other cities throughout New Zealand. Founded: 
1972. Cats: Feature, Short. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta SP. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee 
None. Contact: Bill Gosden; 01 1 64 4 385 01 62 
fax: 801 7304; entries@nzff.co.nz 
www.nzff.co.nz. 



52 The Independent I March 2006 



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AMAZEFILMS is constantly looking for feature 
films and short films to include in its pro- 
gramming. We welcome filmmakers and 
writers to send us their work for considera- 
tion free of charge. If you feel that your short 
film, feature film or documentary film that 
you have produced would make a good addi- 
tion to the AmazeFilms programming, please 
fill out the film submission form: 
www.amazefilms.com/sub missions. 

BIG FILM SHORTS is a film distribution compa- 
ny that specializes in short films, as well as 
other media and formats. We serve both as 
sales agents for filmmakers with whom we 
have contracts and as consultants for film 
bookers and programmers, drawing on the 
films in our catalog as well as films we select 
from third-party sources. The core of our busi- 
ness is our film library, which contains shorts 
in a variety of genres, lengths, formats and 
national origins. Many of our films were popu- 
lar favorites and winners at Sundance, 
Telluride, Cannes and other leading film tests in 
the United States and around the world. 

COMEDY EXPRESS TV seeks funny films under 7 
min. to show on television. Please look at our 
website www.comedyexpresstv.com which as 
well as the online release which MUST accom- 
pany all submissions. Contact: Adam Gilad 
9229 Sunset Blvd LA CA 90069 
adamgilad@mac.com 310 271 0023. 



IFP MARKET is the only selective forum in the 
US to introduce new work to an industry-only 
audience from the US and abroad. Seeking 
financing or a producer for your script? 
Completion funds or distribution for your doc- 
umentary? Looking to expand your contact 
list? IFP Market connects you with the indus- 
try reps you need to know to get your work 
financed, completed and distributed. Rolling 
deadlines begin May 1. Fees: $40-550 appli- 
cation; $200-$450 Attendance fee upon 
acceptance (depending on section). Apply 
online at www.ifp.org starting March 1, For 
more details call 212-465-8200 x 222 or email 
marketreg@ifp.org. 

FOOTAGE REQUEST The annual Avid Show Reel 
features clips from the most innovative com- 
mercials, documentaries, music videos, fea- 
ture films, television programs, and more 
from around the globe. And all created with 
Avid editing systems and/or Softimage anima- 
tion software. It's a great, free way to get 
valuable exposure throughout the year — from 
NAB in Las Vegas to IBC in Amsterdam. For 
details, see www.avid.com/footage/. 

GOOGLE VIDEO UPLOAD PROGRAM is accepting 
digital video files of any length and size. 
Simply sign up for an account and upload your 
videos using our Video Uploader (you must 
own the rights to the works you upload), and, 
pending our approval process and the launch 
of this new service, we'll include your video in 
Google Video, where users will be able to 
search, preview, purchase and play it. 
https://upload.video.google.com/. 

HOLLYWOOD GATEWAY SCREENWRITING 
CONTEST seeks to guide aspiring writers to 
their success through opportunity, mentoring 
and unparalleled access to Hollywood deci- 
sion makers. $5,000 Cash prize and an initial 
12-month option agreement against a poten- 
tial $100,000 purchase price, among other 
prizes. Early Entries February 28th, 2005 - 
Special Early Bird Entry Cost $35.00. 
Contest Deadline April 30th, 2005 - Entry 
Cost $40.00 Late Entrany June 30th, 2005 - 
Entry Cost $50.00. Type of Material: 
Screenplays 80-140 pages. International 
entries written in English are welcome. 
For more information: www.holly 

woodgateway.com/details.php. 



THE MOUNTAIN FUND at www mountain- 
fund. org is looking for works that educate 
about issues affecting people in mountain- 
ous regions of the world. We want to add 
such content to our site to educate our visi- 
tors. If you are willing to have your works on 
our site. Please contact us. 

NATURAL HEROES is a Public Television series 
featuring independently produced films and 
videos. We're searching for compelling stories 
that feature people challenging current environ- 
mental standards and conditions. Accepted 
works will be packaged for broadcast and dis- 
tributed to Public Television stations across the 
country. There are no fees, contracts are non- 
exclusive, and any viewers interested in pur- 
chasing your film would be sent directly to you. 
Download the Submission Form and Call for 
Entries from www.naturalheroestv.org 
Questions? Email naturalheroes@krcb.org or 
phone 707-585-8522x124. 

PRODUCING THE DIGITAL FEATURE FILM 

Fairleigh Dickinson University will produce a 
feature length film as part of a new course, 
Producing the Digital Feature Film. We will 
select a screenwriter (or writer/director) to 
join our class in order to have their film pro- 
duced. All other crew positions will be filled 
by students enrolled in the class. 
Screenplays should be between 80-100 
pages (maximum). Scripts must be able to 
be shot near our campus in Madison New 
Jersey at any time of year. We will not read 
screenplays longer than 100 pp in length. 
Hard copies only, please. Please direct all 
submissions to: Producing the Feature Film/ 
Fairleigh Dickinson University/ 285 Madison 
Avenue/ Dreyfuss Hall, M-DBO-01/ 
Madison, NJ 07940. Submissions must be 
received by March 31, 2006. 

TIME:BASE is a curated exhibition of time- 
based media and art at Boley, an 8,000 sq ft. 
former bank in downtown Kansas City. 
Emphasis for 2006 May-June show is site- 
specific work and installation. Video, film, 
audio, installation, interactive art or perform- 
ance of any type also considered. Send CD, 
DVD, VHS, URL or detailed proposal with 
entry form (www.time-base.org) to: 
time:base, 5100 Rockhill Rd Haag 202, 
Kansas City MO 64110. Tel/816/235-1708; 
time-base@hotmail. 



March 2006 I The Independent 53 



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DAT, grip & 5-ton truck. . . more. Call for 
reel: Tom Agnello (201) 741-4367; road 
toindy@aol.com. 

FREELANCE, BRENDAN C. FLYNT - Director of 
Photography for feature films and shorts. 
Credits: Remedy starring Frank Vincent 
and El Rey(Goya Award). Have 
35mm,s16,HD equipment and contacts 
w/festivals, distributors, and name actors. 
Call anytime(21 2)208-0968 or 

bcflynt@yahoo.com www.dpflynt.com 

COMPOSER: Original music for your film or 
video project. Will work with any budget. 
Complete digital studio. NYC area. Demo 
CD upon request. Call Ian O'Brien: (201) 
222-2638; iobrien@bellatlantic.net. 



ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE AT LOW PRICES, NO 

RESTRICTIONS: Offering a High Quality, 
Extensive Library of Public Domain 
Footage spanning the 20th Century at 
prices independent producers can afford. 
Footage Farm (888) 270-1414; 
www.footagefarm.com. 

UNION SQUARE AREA STAGE RENTALS, pro 

duction space, Digibeta, Beta SR DVCAM, 
mmi-DV, hi-8, 24-R projectors, grip, lights, 
dubs, deck and camera rentals. 
Uncompressed Avid and FCP suites, too. 
Production Central (212) 631-0435. 

■■■■||H| 

DISTRIBUTION 



AQUARIUS HEALTH CARE Videos is the lead- 
ing Distributor/Producer of documentary 
films on health care issues. Our programs 
are educational and inspirational and focus 
on life challenging situations. We are cur- 
rently seeking additional films to add to our 
award winning collection. Our strong, tar- 
geted marketing program will increase 
awareness and sales for you. Please send 
a preview vhs or DVD to Aquarius Health 
Care Videos, 18 North Mam Street, 
Sherborn, MA 01770 or call (888) 440- 
2963, lbk@aquariusproductions.com. 



Angeles, seeks finished quality 
feature/documentary product for world 
wide distribution, including domestic the- 
atrical. Send non-returnable DVD or VHS 
screener with press kit to: WWMPC, 
Executive Offices, Attn: Dan Hirsch, 2120 
Main St., Suite #180, Huntington Beach, 
CA, 92648. www.wwmpc.com. 

NEW DAY FILMS seeks energetic independ- 
ent film and video makers with social 
issue docs for distribution to non-theatrical 
markets. If you want to maximize your 
audience while working within a remark- 
able community of activist filmmakers, 
New Day is the perfect home for your film. 
New Day is committed to promoting diver- 
sity within our membership and the media 
we represent. Explore our catalog at 
www.newday.com, then contact Alice 
Elliott at join@newday.com or 212-924- 
7151. 

OUTCAST FILMS an emerging LGBT film 
distributor seeks social issue docs which 
will foster the critical and essential discus- 
sions around civil rights, health care, and 
sexuality which largely impact the LGBT 
community. Distribution consultation serv- 
ices also available on a sliding scale. 
Inquire at or visit www.outcast-films.com. 

FREELANCE 



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COMPOSER: Original music for your film or 
video project. Will work with any budget. 
Complete digital studio. NYC area. Demo 
CD upon request. Call Ian O'Brien: (201) 
222-2638; iobrien@bellatlantic.net. 

D.P with Arri SR Super 16/1 6mm and 
35BL-2 camera packages. Expert lighting 
and camerawork for independent films, 
music videos, etc. Superb results on a 
short schedule and low budget. Great 
prices. Willing to travel. Matthew 61 7-244- 
6730 

EXPERIENCED PHOTO & FILM RESEARCHER 

available for documentary film projects 
large & small. Visit my web site for a list of 
projects & clients, www.roberta-new 

man.com 

FUNDRAISING/ GRANTWRITING/MARKETING 

Research, writing & marketing for pro- 
duction, distribution, exhibition & educa- 
tional media projects. Successful propos- 
als to NYSCA, NEA, Sundance Doc Fund, 
ITVS, NEH, Rockefeller Foundation, 
Robeson Foundation. Reasonable rates. 
Wanda Bershen, (212) 598-0224; 
www.reddiaper.com. 

LOCATION SOUND Over 25 yrs sound exp. 
w/ timecode Nagra & DAT, quality mics & 
mixers. Reduced rates for low-budget proj- 
ects. Harvey & Fred Edwards, (518) 677- 
5720; (819) 459-2680; edfilms@world 
net.att.net; www.edwardsfilms.com. 



54 The Independent I March 2006 



PROFESSIONAL DUO Pro Tools editor/mixer 
with great sound library, extensive film/TV 
experience. Creative helpful, fast. Top 
notch Photoshop/After Effects and Mac 
troubleshooting. Great rates for independ- 
ents - matsmusic@hotmail.com 

STORYBOARDS make complicated scenes 
clear. Kathryn Roake has drawn over 15 
films, one the winner of a New Line 
Cinema grant, another, the winner of an 
HBO grant. I work on union and non union 
films. Kathryn 718-788-2755. 

OPPORTUNITIES | GIGS 

50 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR VIDEO BUSI- 
NESS. FREE REPORT. Grow a successful 
video business in Legal, Wedding, 
Corporate, TV and more. http://videouni 
versity.com/50web.htm 



from concept to screen. We offer free 
project evaluation for all comers and we 
highly encourage first timers to take us up 
on this offer. For more information visit us 
@ www.gopicturesnyc.com. Make your 
project a GO - GO Pictures! 

MUSIC LICENSING MADE EASY! Your film 
deserves great music and licensing music 
is what we do - brilliantly! Talent Solutions 
provides brilliant solutions for the inde- 
pendent filmmaker including music licens- 
ing, talent/celebrity negotiations and 
contracting, estimate and budget manage- 
ment, research and resources and 
contract interpretation. For all your 
music licensing needs, please contact 
lauren@talentsolutions.com. Or call Talent 
Solutions, 212-431-3999, 212-431-7229 
(Fax), 285 West Broadway, Suite 300, NY, 
NY 10013. 



ent/celebrity negotiations and contracting 
needs, please contact lauren@talentsolu 
tions.com Talent Solutions, 212-431-3999, 
212-431-7229 (Fax), 285 West Broadway, 
Suite 3NY, NY 10013. 

POSTPRODUCTION 

AUDIO POST-PRODUCTION Audio comple 
tion on your Doc or Film. Well Credited 
and experienced. Visit website for Credit 
List. Terra Vista Media, Inc. Tel 562 437- 
0393 

EDITOR & FCP INSTRUCTOR: DV & Beta SP 
EDITOR with own suite; plus workshops 
for Final Cut Pro available: learn Final Cut 
Pro from certified instructor and profes- 
sional editor. Log onto 
www.Highnoonpro.com or call 917 523 
6260. e-mail-lnfo@HighNoonProd.com. 



THE NEW YORK CINEMA MARKET - resched- 
uled, July 7-9, 2006. Deadline: April 30. 
New film market catering to indie film- 
makers. 20 min seg from 40 films over 3 
days together with 6 seminars. Exhibition 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, BetaSp. Preview 
- VHS & DVD. Submission Fee: $35, 
Contact 646-285-6596; Pchau@newyork 
cinemamarket.com; www.newyorkcine 
mamarket.com 



PREPRODUCTION 
DEVELOPMENT 




GO Pictures is an indie production compa- 
ny based in NYC. At GO Pictures we seek 
to collaborate on challenging projects with 
the undeterred film or video maker. Our 
goal is to find the little engine that could. 
With a combined 20 years in the industry, 
GO Pictures can help you take your idea 



GET YOUR SCREENPLAY READY FOR PRODUC- 
TION! Former Miramax story analyst, 
School of Visual Arts professor and author 
of Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters 
(Hyperion, August 2002), will analyze your 
screenplay and write you constructive in- 
depth studio style notes. I will go right to 
the heart of what works in your script and 
what needs improvement as well as offer- 
ing suggestions about HOW to fix it. Trust 
me, I'm not looking for formulas. Every 
screenplay is different. Since I'm an inde- 
pendent filmmaker, I specialize in helping 
filmmakers get their scripts ready for 
shooting. Face it. You're going to spend a 
lot of money to make your film. Spend a 
little up front to make sure your script 
works. It's the ONLY way to pull off a low 
budget film effectively! It will cost you 
1000 times more to fix script problems 
AFTER the production begins. Reasonable 
rates, references. Michael Terno, mtier 
no@nyc.rr.com 

TALENT/CELEBRITY NEGOTIATIONS MADE 
EASY! Your film deserves great talent and 
negotiating and contracting talent/celebri- 
ties is what we do - brilliantly! Talent 
Solutions provides brilliant solutions for 
the independent filmmaker including tal- 
ent/celebrity negotiations and contracting, 
music licensing, estimate and budget 
management, research and resources and 
contract interpretation. For all your tal- 



WEB 

WEB SITE DESIGNER: Create multimedia 
web sites, integrating video, sound, and 
special effects, that promote your films 
and/or your company. Info: Sabine 
Probst, phone: 646-226-7881, email: 
sabine@spromo.net, url.www.sabineprob 
stdesign.com. 

INDIEVILLE: With more than 26,000 unique 
visitors per month and 5,200 email 
newsletter subscribers ~ join the indie 
crusade at http://indieville.net. 



To submit a classified to 

The Independent contact 

Michael Tierno at 

classifieds@aivf.org 

or call 212-807-1400 

ext 241. 



March 2006 I The Independent 55 



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COMPETITIONS 



APPLAUSE SCREENWRITING COMPETITION call- 
ing for original works of an author or authors 
and not previously optioned, purchased, or 
produced. Adaptations (no documentaries) 
are welcome provided the author assumes 
sole legal responsibility for obtaining copy- 
rights to the adapted work. Prizes: Script 
submission to agents, managers, producers, 
lunch with Hollywood execs, exposure and 
promotion packages, coverage, script cri- 
tiques, software, magazines, and other great 
product prizes. For more information visit 
www.applause4you.com. 

SHORT FILM SLAM NYC's only weekly short 
film competition, is looking for submissions. 
Competition on Sundays at 2 p.m. At the end 
of each show the audience votes for a win- 
ning film, which receives further screenings 
at the Pioneer Theater. To enter, you must 
have a film, 30 mm. or less, in a 35mm, 
16mm, BetaSP, VHS, or DVD format. To sub- 
mit your film, stop by the Pioneer Theater 
(155 E. 3rd St.) during operating hours, 
call (212) 254-7107, or visit www.two 
boots.com/pioneer for more information. 

CONFERENCES WORKSHOPS 

"CREATIVE DEMOLITION," The 52nd Robert 
Flaherty Film Seminar, curated by Ariella 
Ben-Dov and Steve Seid, will be held at 
Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, 



June 17-24 2006. Register online at 
www.flahertyseminar.org. Fellowships, 
with a partial fee reduction, are available. 
Regional Fellowships, with a full fee waiver, 
may also become available. Deadline: March 
20 2006. See website for more details or e- 
mail ifs@flahertyseminar.org. 

ONLINE SALON which stimulates conversa- 
tions on the craft and business of documen- 
tary filmmaking between members and well- 
known documentary professionals. Available 
to the international documentary filmmaking 
community at large, the Virtual Doc 
Conference is held on-line four times per year. 
To participate, register at: www.d-word.com/reg 
ister/dwordsignup.html. 

IFP/CHICAGO has developed a 5-part 
Producers Series, covering every major 
aspect of producing a narrative feature film. 
The sessions will move through setting up a 
production company, acquiring material, cre- 
ating a realistic budget, raising money and 
creating a business plan, and that's just the 
first two sessions. The final three will cover 
production, post-production and distribution. 
This intensive workshop will combine class- 
room style instruction, discussion and case 
studies. Each evening includes a screening 
of an independent film and a case-study Q 
and A session about the film's production. 
2005 Dates: April 2, 16, 30 and May 14 and 
21. These will be all-day workshops, with a 
break for lunch, and optional screenings in 
the evenings. Pricing structure and registra- 
tion information will be available March 1st 
2005. For more information, email edo 
nius@ifp.org . 

VOLUNTEER LAWYERS FOR THE ARTS: offer 
seminars on "Copyright Basics," "Nonprofit 
Incorporation & Tax Exemption" & more. 
Reservations must be made. Contact: (212) 
319-2910 x. 9. 

24TH STREET WRITERS GROUP seeking new 
members - Monday Nights. Well established 
Manhattan based screen writing group is 
seeking committed new members for 
Monday evening meetings. If interested in 
being considered for membership, please 
send a 30 page writing sample in PDF format 
to the24thstwriters@aol.com. 



PUBLICATIONS 

DATABASE & DIRECTORY OF LATIN AMERICAN 
FILM & VIDEO, organized by Int'l Media 
Resources Exchange, seeks works by Latin 
American & US Latino ind. producers. To 
send work or for info, contact Roselly Torres, 
LAVA, 124 Washington PL, NY, NY 10014; 
(212) 463-0108; imre@igc.org. 

RESOURCES/ FUNDS 

FISCAL SPONSORSHIP - Film Forum is accept- 
ing applications for fiscal sponsorship from 
filmmakers. Film Forum retains 5% of all 
funds received on a project's behalf from 
foundations, corporations and individuals. To 
apply, email a cover letter, project descrip- 
tion, bios of project leaders and proposed 
project budget to Dominick Balletta at 
dominick@filmforum.org. Dominick Balletta/ 
General Manager/ FILM FORUM/ 209 West 
Houston Street/ NYC 10014/212.627.2035. 

THE FUND FOR WOMEN ARTISTS is a non-profit 
dedicated to helping women get the 
resources they need to do their creative 
work. We focus on women using their art to 
address social issues, especially women in 
theatre, film, and video, and we have two 
primary goals: to challenge stereotypes . We 
support the creation of art that reflects the 
full diversity and complexity of women's 
lives. To Increase Opportunities. We advo- 
cate for women artists to be paid fairly and to 
have more opportunities to make a living 
from their creative work. To learn more, see 
www.WomenArts.org . 

NATIONAL BLACK PROGRAMMING CONSORTIUM 

annual open solicitation fund/ request for pro- 
posals (RFP) -NBPC can be a resource to help 
turn a bright idea or life-long dream into a suc- 
cessful film/video project. NBPC funds every 
phase of the production process. Awards range 
$1,000 to $80,000. Detailed guidelines will be 
posted in March 2006 The 2007 RFP 
Application Deadline is June 2, 2006. For over 
25 years NBPC has been an effective advocate 
for media makers telling stories about the 
African American and African Diaspora experi- 
ence. Since 1991, NBPC has awarded over $6 
million to independent filmmakers whose work 
has provided hundreds of hours of program- 
ming on PBS. www.nbpc.tv/funding.php. 



56 The Independent I March 2006 



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SCHOLARSHIP FUND for Women Filmmakers 

$20,000 scholarship offered by Muse Media. 
San Francisco Women's Film Festival forms 
relationship with Muse Media to support 
women filmmakers to complete their films. 
For more information contact: scholar 
ship@womensfilmfestival.us or womensfilm 
festival. us. 

THE TEXAS FILMMAKERS' PRODUCTION FUND is 

an annual grant awarded to emerging film 
and video artists in the state of Texas. 
Funded through revenues from benefit film 
premieres and private and corporate dona- 
tions, the TFPF is our effort to redress the 
loss of public funds for filmmakers. 
Application available at 

www.austinfilm.org/tfpf/ in March 2006. 

MICROCINEMAS | SCREENINGS 

911 MEDIA ARTS CENTER was incorporated in 
1984 and is considered Washington State's 
premier Media Arts Center. 911 screenings 
are booked quarterly. Submissions are 
accepted on a rolling basis. Quarterly dead- 
lines. Submission Address: Screenings 
Committee /91 1 Media Arts Center / 402 9th 
Ave N. / Seattle, WA 981 09 /(206) 682-6552 / 
info@91 1media.org. 

VIDEO/ANIMATION SHOW Looking for work 
related to future transportation systems, 
gender and transportation, and social 
aspects and construction of transportation 
systems, real and imagined. To be screened 
at the Society for Literature, Science, and the 
Arts Conference June in Amsterdam, 13-16 
June, 2006 and screened at the 1 19 Gallery 
in Lowell, Massachusetts. Deadline is April 
1 , 2006. Send tapes of DVDs to: 1 1 9 Gallery/ 
c/o Astrodime Transit Authority/ 119 
Chelmsford Street/ Lowell MA 01 851 or con- 
tact rocketscience@virtualberet.net. 

ROOFTOP FILMS Submit your movies! We are 
currently accepting films for our 10th 
anniversary season, the 2006 Summer 
Series. We want motion that tell us about 
where you live and how you live, and we 
seek independent movies with original ideas, 
of production values. We accept films of all 
genres and lengths. The festival consists of 
weekly shows in parks, along piers, in histor- 
ical locations or on rooftops in New York City. 



T 




@ 



ia 



itfv/nin 



CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS IN: 



Digital Filmmaking 



Intensive nine-month programs for the skills and tools you need to turn your ideas into reality, including 
our new program RECORDING ARTS. Financial assistance and career services available. APPLY NOW. 

CONTACT US: 800.808.2342 ■ info@cdiabu.com • www.cdiabu.com 



X 1/ 77 F~z 7 



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28th 29th 



A TRUL Y INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL m 

Shorts / Feature Length / Documentary 
Music Video / Experimental / Animation 

Myrtle Beach International Film Festival PO Box 6879 Myrtle Beach. SC. 29572 
wwMf.myrflebeachfilimfestival.com 



.Entrance Fee $25 Deadline April 15th. 843-497-0220 m-f 10am-6pmj 




March 2006 I The Independent 57 



CineAlta" 24P, HD, optical disc recording, and editing on your laptop... all for a suggested list price under S 17K. 
www. sony. com/Cine A Ita 



> 2006 Sony Electronics Inc. All rights reserved. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice. Reproduction in whole or in part 



SONY 




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without written permission is prohibited Sony, CineAlta, and XDCAM are trademarks of Sony, The New Way of Business is a service mark of Sony. 



F R 



DREAM TO SCREEN 




T H E 



LOS ANGELES 

FILM SCHOOI 



877 9LA FILM • lafilm.com 



6363 Sunset Boulevard Hollywood, CA 90028 
Accredited College. ACCSCT • Career Development Assistance 

fc 2006 ri ! All rights rcervori The Projector Head image and ihe forms "The Los Ange 

Film School* and "From Dream lo Screen *ie rt-ci. n.irks or service marks of The Los Angeles Film Scho 



Curators encouraged to submit entire pro- 
grams. For information please visit 
www.rooftopfilms.com or email Dan Nuxoll, 
programming director, at 

submit@rooftopflims.com. 

BROADCAST | CABLECAST 

DUTV: A progressive, nonprofit educational 
channel in Philadelphia seeks works by indie 
producers. All genres & lengths considered. 
Will return tapes. BetaSP, DV, dvd accepted 
for possible cablecast. Contact: Debbie 
Rudman, DUTV, 3141 Chestnut St., Bldg 
9B, Rm 0016,Philadelphia, PA 19104; (215) 
895-2927; dutv@drexel.edu; www.dutv.org. 

GET YOUR FILM SHOWN ON SKY! Propeller 
TV is the new national channel for film 
and television talent, to launch in the new 
year on SKY. The Film First strand of the 
channel is looking for short films to be 
considered for broadcast. They can be 
any length and genre. You don't have to 
be Spielberg to be considered for the 
channel, you could be an independent 
filmmaker or even a community-based 
group. Please send films on DVD for 
broadcast consideration to: John Offord, 
Propeller TV, c/o Screen Yorkshire, 46 The 
Calls, Leeds LS2 7EY 

john@propellertv.co.uk (0)7724 243680. 

THE SHORT LIST. Weekly, half-hour inter- 
national short film series on PBS and Cox 
Cable now licensing for 14th season. 
Considers shorts 30 sees, to 20 mins (fic- 
tion, animation, documentary). Send 
DVD screener with application form 
downloaded from www.theshortlist.ee. 

WIRESTREAM FILMSEARCH seeks films for 
broadcast. WireStream Productions, in Co- 
operation with WireStream networks, is 
seeking independent films and television 
series for broadcast. Genre welcome 
include Drama, Comedy, SciFi, Fantasy, 
Nonfiction/Reality and Educational films and 
series, suitable for general/mature audi- 
ences. All entries must be available for all 
rights worldwide. Entries previously pre- 
sented are eligible subject to confirmation 
of rights. Submit entries to Waye Hicks, 
Executive Producer, via email to 
wayne@wirestreamproductions.com, or by 
Parcel Post to WireStream Productions, 
3005B W.Hwy 76, Branson MO 65616. 



60 The Independent I March 2006 




"This exciting program with an international flavour plunges viewers into the heart of artistic reflection, while at the same time 
offering them a journey into memory and identity, reality and virtual ity, time and space... An unmissable event for the simply 
curious, and for lovers of art in all its forms." Alain Fleisher, Director, Le Fresnoy - National Studio of Contemporary Art,Tourcoing, France 



ICanada" ss<Sv*W# 



Canada Council Conseil des Arts 
for the Arts du Canada 



Montreal JVIontreal 



Tele-Quebec 



NEW DAY FILMS is the premiere distribution 
company for social issue media owned and 
managed by filmmakers. We have distributed 
documentary film and video for ovgr 30 years 
to non-theatrical markets. With a strong com- 
mitment to diversity within our membership 
and the content of the media we represent, 
we welcome your interest! 

www.newday.com • join@newday.com 



Or call Alice Elliott: 21 2.924.71 51 



Seeking energetic 
independent makers 
of social issue 
)cumentaries for 
n membership. 




WEBCAST 

FILMFIGHTS.COM democratic filmfestival that 
anyone can enter, 3 times a month. We film- 
fight every ten days of the month (the 10th, 
20th, and 30th) and submissions are due 1 
day before the fight-given a title or genre, the 
submissions are voted on through the web- 
site. The winner is the winner and goes into 
the archives, and their video sits front and 
center until the next winner is crowned, along 
with a little blurb about whatever they feel 
like. Please visit the website for a complete 
list of guidelines: http://filmfights.com/sub 
mit.shtml. 

FILM AND VIDEO 825 Bi-monthly screenings 
of locally, nationally and internationally rec- 
ognized film and video artists' work, pro- 
viding a forum for presenting experimental 
film and video in Los Angeles. Our curator- 
ial vision is open to both shorts and fea- 
tures in experimental, performance, anima- 
tion, and documentary forms. Film/Video 
825, Gallery 825/LAAA, 825 N. La Cienega 
Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069, T: (31 0) 652- 
8272, F: (310) 652-9251, gallery825 
©laaa.org, www.laaa.org. 

ASCREEN-2-STREAM Film and Video 
Screening. The screening is a monthly event 
where the films are voted on by the audience 
and the winners are streamed on 
iFvChicago.com. This event is geared to 
inspire and bring together the independent 
film and video community of Chicago. There 
are industry professionals, actors, and other 
filmmakers to share script ideas and collabo- 
rate on projects. For details: www.ifvchica 
go.com/screenmg/. 

WWW.VIDEOART.NET is looking for new film- 
makers, video artists, producers, etc. to post 
their clips into a searchable database. 
Registration is free. We're also interested in 
learning about your work, new links, trends, 
equipment, and general film dialogue in the 
forums. A great opportunity to showcase 
your talents and discuss your work in the 
forums. 



62 The Independent I March 2006 



THANK YOU 



The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 
(AIVF) provides a wide range of programs and services 
for independent moving image makers and the media 
community, including The Independent and a series of 
resource publications, seminars and workshops, infor- 
mation services, and arts and media policy advocacy. 

None of this work would be possible without the 
generous support of the AIVF membership and the 
following organizations: 

We also wish to thank the following individuals and 
organizational members: 



■u'. ■■ 

□ 

NYSCA 

O 

PBS 

Kodak 



City of New York Dept. of Cultural Affairs 

Discovery Wines 

Experimental Television Center Ltd. 

Forest Creatures Entertainment, Inc. 

Home Box Office 

The Jewish Communal Fund 

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 

The Nathan Cummings Foundation 

The National Endowment for the Arts 

New York State Council on the Arts 

The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation 

PBS 

Yuengling Beer 

The Advertising Club 

Kodak 



BUSINESS/INDUSTRY MEMBERS: AL: Cypress Moon Productions; 
CA: SJPL Films, Ltd.; CO: CU Film Studies, Pay Reel; CT: Anvil 
Production; FL: Charter Pictures Entertainment; IL: Shattering 
Paradigms Entertainment, LLC; MD: NewsGroup, Inc.; Ml: Logic 
Media LLC; MS: Magnolia Independent Film Festival; NY: 
Entertainment Pro Insurance; Cypress Films; Forest Creatures 
Entertainment; H20mark; Lightworks Producing Group; Mad Mad 
Judy; Metropolis Film Lab; Missing Pixel; New School University; 
Off Ramp Films, Inc.; On the Prowl Productions; Production 
Central; RelaYV Media; Robin Frank Management; Talent 
Solutions; The Outpost; Triune Pictures; VA: Karma 
Communications Film & Video; WA: Two Dogs Barking; 

NONPROFIT MEMBERS: AR: Henderson State University; 
CA: Bay Area Video Coalition; California Newsreel; Everyday 
Gandhis Project; NAATA/Media Fund; NALIP; USC School of 
Cinema and TV; CO: Denver Center Media; Free Speech TV: CT: 
Hartley Film Foundation; DC: CINE; Media Access; School of 
Communication, American University; FL: Miami International 
Film Festival; University of Tampa; HI: Pacific Islanders in 
Communications; IL: Community Television Network; Department 
of Communication/NLU; Kartemquin Films; IN: Fort Wayne 
Cinema Center; Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee; KY: Appalshop; 
MA: CCTV; Documentary Educational Resources; Harvard 
University, OsCLibrary; LTC; MD: Laurel Cable Network; 
Silverdocs: AFI Discovery Channel Doc Festival; ME: Maine 
Photographic Workshop; Ml: Ann Arbor Film Festival; MN: 
IFP/MSP; Walker Art Center; MO: dhTV; Webster University Film 
Series; NC: Broadcasting/Cinema; Working Films; NE: Nebraska 
Independent Film Project/AIVF Salon Lincoln; NJ: Black Maria Film 
Festival; Princeton University. Program in Visual Arts; University of 
New Mexico; NY: ActNow Productions; Arts Engine; Cornell 
Cinema; Council for Positive Images, Inc.; Creative Capital 
Foundation; Crowing Rooster Arts; Dutchess Community College 
Student Activites; Educational Video Center; Film Forum; Film 
Society of Lincoln Center; Firelight Media; International Film 



Seminars; LMC-TV; Manhattan Neighborhood Network; National 
Black Touring Circuit; National Black Programming Consortium; 
National Musuem of the American Indian; National Video 
Resources, New York University, Cinema Studies; New York 
Women in Film and Television; Parnassus Works; POV/The 
American Documentary; RIT School of Film and Animation 
Squeaky Wheel; Stony Brook Film Festival; Syracuse University 
United Community Centers; Upstate Films, Ltd.; Witness 
Women Make Movies; OH: Athens Center for Film And Video 
Independent Pictures/AIVF Ohio Salon; OR: Media Arts, MHCC 
Northest Film Center; The Oregon Film & Video Foundation; PA 
American INSIGHT, Inc.; TeamChildren.com; Rl: Flickers Arts 
Collaborative; SC: Department of Art, University of South 
Carolina; South Carolina Arts Commission; TX: Houston Film 
Commission; Southwest Alternate Media Project; Students of 
the World; University of Texas RTF; WA: Seattle Central 
Community College; Wl: UWM Dept. of film; Canada: 
Cinematheque Quebecoise Musee Du Cinema; France: The 
Carmago Foundation 

FRIENDS OF AIVF: Angela Alston, Sabina Maja Angel, Tom 
Basham, Aldo Bello, David Bemis, Doug Block, Liz Canner, Hugo 
Cassirer, Williams Cole, Anne del Castillo, Arthur Dong, Martin 
Edelstein, Esq., Aaron Edison, Paul Espinosa, Karen Freedman, 
Lucy Garrity, Norman Gendelman, Debra Granik, Catherine Gund, 
Peter Gunthel, David Haas, Kyle Henry, Lou Hernandez, Lisa 
Jackson, John Kavanaugh, Stan Konowitz, Leonard Kurz, Lyda Kuth, 
Steven Lawrence, Bart Lawson, Regge Life, Juan Mandelbaum, 
Diane Markrow, Tracy Mazza, Leonard McClure, Daphne McDuffie- 
Tucker, Jim McKay, Michele Meek, Robert Millis, Robert Millis, 
Richard Numeroff, Elizabeth Peters, Laura Poitras, Robert Richter, 
Hiroto Saito, Larry Sapadin, James Schamus, John Schmidt, Nat 
Segaloff, Robert Seigel, Gail Silva, Innes Smolansky, Barbara 
Sostanc, Alexander Spencer, Miriam Stern, George Stoney, Rhonda 
Leigh Tanzman, Rahdi Taylor, Karl Trappe, Jane Wagner, Bart Weiss 



March 2006 I The Independent 63 




HE LIST 

To look or be looked at... 



By Erica Berenstein 

The "male gaze" is a concept often talked about in cultural academia: Men 
are the active viewers, women, the passive objects. But these roles are not 
just hypothetical — the most sought after demographic in modern day adver- 
tising is 18-34 year-old males. So who are we making movies for? And how 
do women navigate a boy-centric playground? 
IT 




'm constantly looking for films with female leads that don't 
simply satisfy a male audience. They are still completely in the 
minority. A fun exercise is to scrutinize the covers of DVDs 
when you visit Blockbuster. Try to find just one female on a 
cover that is not sexually objectified. And you can bet the 
movie, or least the design or the cover, was made by a woman. 
But to answer the question, I have often wondered if women 
filmmakers are tempted to create male protagonists just to get 
their movie made. On the flip side, within the experimental 
front, I'd say most women filmmakers, once they realized that 
their gender is important only so far as it can titillate straight 
men, became even more driven to include a female subjectivi- 
ty-" 

— Kelly Spivey, filmmaker, Poor White Trash Girl: 

Class Consciousness 

"The current target demographic for media creation is nar- 
row and short-sighted. But this narrowness is an opportunity 
for women filmmakers to open doors and break creative bound- 
aries. There are more independent women filmmakers than ever 
before and the number is growing. They see the dearth of pro- 
gramming for the larger market and are making media to fill 
those holes. In the meantime, the situation makes women have 
to work harder, be better, and make more creative and innova- 
tive films. And when the larger industry wakes up to see the 
market potential out there, we'll be there to shove them into the 
light." 

— Stephanie Higgins, director, The Gay Marriage Thing 



"Women must constantly fight to tell their stories and have 
their voices heard through the medium of film. It is a man's 
business and the trick is learning to play with the boys and make 
sure you are prepared to handle all that goes with that when 
your lucky break comes. We must figure out clever ways to write 
material that appeals to the sought after demographic as well as 
the audience that we are passionate about reaching. By doing 
this we can tell our stories, but still get our investors their money 
back. It is a business after all. We must prove ourselves enough 
to be trusted, then we can gain respect, which will allow us to 
continue to work and have our voices be heard. It's not a busi- 
ness where we can be sensitive or take things personally. There's 
no time to get emotional." 

— Trish Doolan, writer/director, April's Shower 

"I don't think that any of the media advertising created for 
men of that group has any reality, and most of us get into doc- 
making because we are fed up with the boring, fantasy world 
created for this set of consumers. We recognize how pernicious 
it is, since it extends to world news and drives national policy. 
Informed by feminism, I think that female documentarians 
know that their worlds and their values are more real. The suc- 
cess stories, of course, are the movies of Jane Campion, who has 
managed to make mature movies that speak to men and women 
alike." 

— Carol Stanger, producer, Saying I Do 



64 The Independent I March 2006 



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Volume 29 Number 3 




4 EDITOR'S LETTER 

5 CONTRIBUTORS 

6 ON DVD 

Reviews of films now available on DVD 
By The Independents friends and family 

8 NEWS 

Sundance comes to Brooklyn, round-the- 
clock DOCs, Turnhere.com, and two 
alternatives to Netflix 

By Erica Berenstein, Nicole Davis, 
Leah Hochbaum, & Simone Swink 

11 DOC DOCTOR 

Making it on public TV; the difference 
between PBS's hard and soft feeds 
By Fernanda Rossi 

13 PROFILE 

Paula Kerger takes the helm at PBS 
By Katherine Dykstra 

16 PRODUCTION JOURNAL 

How terror abroad led to the truth about 
terror at home 

By Pamela Yates 

19 FESTIVAL CIRCUIT 

For/iTy! The first American film to win at 
Rotterdam's international film festival 
By Macauley Peterson 



22Q/A 

Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins 
Costigan on "Sesame Street" around the world 
By Rebecca Carroll 

43 LEGAL 

What the Artists' Bill means for indie filmmakers 
By Fernando Ramirez, Esq. 

Features 

26 MOVING IMAGES 

The best documentaries do more than 
educate — they inspire real change 
By Elizabeth Angell 

30 HISTORY IN THE MAKING 

The History Channel goes independent 
By Ethan Alter 

34 HELL OR HIGH WATER 

How the independent film community is 
coping with Katrina 

By Hannah Rosenzweig 

38 HOW FAR WE'VE COME 

After 1 5 years, ITVS looks back even 
as it looks ahead 

By Kyle Minor 

CHEAT SHEET: Get your work on PBS 



Listings 

45 FESTIVALS 
50 WORK WANTED 
52 NOTICES 
56 CLASSIFIEDS 

63 THANKS 

64 THE LIST 



Cover: The World According to Sesame 
Sired explores the world's most-watched 
children's show. (Photo courtesy The 
World According to Sesame Street.) 

This Page: Occupation: Dreamland has 
transcended the theatet and ended up in 
the public sphere. (Courtesy of 
Occupationdreamland.com) 



April 2006 I The Independent 3 




Dear Readers, 

I had planned ro start this letter with my 
own memories of public broadcasting (this 
issue's theme). I was going to write about 
watching "Sesame Street" with my little sister 
who was morbidly afraid of "The Paint Man" 
and would run for hiding when it came on. 
(Back then I mocked her, then ate her cook- 
ies, but now I have to sympathize. That guy 
was a little creepy.) 

But just as I sat down to try to turn that 
memory into some sort of meaningful intro- 
duction, I got a call from the director of the 
Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, CA. 
Would I like to be on a panel about how the 
media affects the distribution of film? I hesi- 
tated. As a relatively new editor-in-chief, I 
wasn't sure I had the expertise to discuss the 
role that magazines, newspapers, radio, etc. 
play in helping filmmakers get their work out 
there. No doubt an interesting topic, but what 
did I know about how my assignments 
impacted their subjects? And wasn't that a 
dangerous perspective for an editor? 

I started thinking about how I choose what 
to cover — and hence publicize and promote. 
For this issue, I got a call out of the blue from 
Macauley Peterson who interned at AIVF 
long before I arrived. He was on his way to 
the Rotterdam film festival — did The 
Independent want a report? Another former 
AIVF employee forwarded me an email from 
her friend, Pamela Yates, sharing news of a 
documentary that she was working on in the 
South Pacific. I called Pamela who said she 
couldn't write about this film, but she could 
write about State of Fear, her four year inves- 
tigation into Peruvian politics. Contributing 
editor Josh Neuman suggested we look into a 
film he saw at Sundance, The World According 
to Sesame Street and Rebecca Carroll agreed to 



speak with the filmmakers about the evolu- 
tion of their unusually optimistic documen- 
tary. 

Hannah Rosenzwieg, whom I met at a 
Shooting People parry, invited me to the 
screening of a film she produced which 
tracked young women from New Orleans. 
Inspired, I sent her scrambling to talk to some 
of the many filmmakers who were effected by 
Katrina — how were they coping? How were 
they using film to get themselves and their 
city back on its feet? 

I put regular contributor Ethan Alter on 
another case; how has TV helped teach us a 
certain kind of history? Then a publicist called 
about the History Channel's new series "10 
Days That Unexpectedly Changed America." 
Alter smartly turned the piece into a fascinat- 
ing discussion with the 10 independent film- 
makers whom the History Channel asked to 
recreate significant, if overlooked, moments 
in American history. Did the perks of enor- 
mous resources outweigh the constraints of a 
mainstream network? 

Alters piece strayed a bit from the theme — 
which is fine. Themes can be constricting, 
which is why, back in January, I wasn't even 
sure I could fill up an issue all about PBS. 
Then all these ideas started percolating, and 
there were suddenly more than enough inter- 
esting articles that would fit under that umbrel- 
la. Katherine Dykstra spoke to Paula Kerger in 
her New York office just weeks before she took 
over as president of PBS. Kyle Minor looked 
back on ITVS' last 1 5 years and asked its pro- 
grammers how they were gearing up for a new 
world. Directors at other major CPB-funded 
programs also revealed the types of stories and 
voices they re currently looking for, which Erica 
Berenstein turned into a cheat sheet for getting 
your film on public TV. Finally, Fernando 
Ramirez explains the complicated legal lan- 
guage of one of the many important bills 
before Congress, The Artists' Bill. 

So, I guess it's a somewhat random, com- 
munity-driven process. If you're receptive to 
good ideas and sensitive to your readers' inter- 
ests, an issue often just sort of comes together. 
That's what I took to the panel anyway. 

Enjoy, and thanks for reading 

The Independent, 

Shana Liebman, 

Editor-in-Chief 




ent 



Editor-in-Chief: Shana Liebman 

[editor@aivf.org] 

Senior Editor: Katherine Dykstra 

[katherine@aivf.org] 

Editorial Associate: Erica Berenstein 

[notices@aivf.org] 

Designer: R. Benjamin Brown 

[benbrowngraphic@msn.com] 

Graphics Director: Timothy Schmidt 

lgraphics@aivf.org] 

Editor-at-Large: Rebecca Carroll 

[indie carroll@gmail.com] 

Contributing Editors: 

Sherman Alexie, David Aim, Pat Aufderheide, 

Bo Mehrad, Cara Mertes, Joshua Neuman, Sean Shodahl 

Contributing Writers: 

Elizabeth Angell, Sarah Coleman, Lisa Selin Davis, 

Nicole Davis, Matt Dunne, Rick Harrison 

Advertising Representative: Veronica Shea 

(212) 807-1400 x232; [veronica@aivf.org] 

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(212) 807-1400 x234; [mike@aivf.org] 

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• 

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Subscription to the magazine is included in annual membership 
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© Foundation for Independent Video & Film, Inc. 2006 
Visit The Independent online at: www.aivf.org 



4 The Independent I April 2006 



CONTRIBUTORS 




MACAULEY PETERSON edited Adam Nemett's The 
Instrument, which screened at the 2005 Dances With Films 
Festival and appeared as part of New York's Anthology Film 
Archives' New Filmmakers series. He also produced the 
DVD release of Excess Hollywood, the 2005 Princeton 
Triangle Show, and writes for Chess Life, the national publi- 
cation of the US Chess Federation. He wagers that he's the 
only freelance writer to tackle magazine articles on chess and 
film in Holland, back-to-back, and may be reached at 
www.MacauleyPeterson.com. 




KYLE MINOR lives in Columbus, Ohio and teaches at 
Ohio State University. His work has recently appeared in 
Quarterly West, River Teeth, and the Columbus Dispatch, and 
has been honored for excellence by the Atlantic Monthly and 
Writer's Digest. He is at work on a novel and a book-length 
memoir. 




PAMELA YATES has dedicated her life 
to human-rights and social-issue storytelling 
in documentary films. Along with Peter 
Kinoy, she founded Skylight Pictures, which 
is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. 




HANNAH ROSENZWEIG is a New 
York City native and a documentary film- 
maker, writer, and public health researcher. 
Her work focuses on issues of civil rights, 
women's and children's health, and 
American history. She studied at Oberlin 
College and received a masters degree from 
Columbia University. 



April 2006 I The Independent 5 





The God Who Wasn't There, Beyond Belief 
Media; www.thegodmovie.com 

Most of us already know what we think about 
religion — whether we embrace or eschew. 
What's so satisfying about The God Who Wasn't 
There is that it engages the well-worn dialogue 
about faith in terms of, holy cow!, evidence. 
Director Brian Flemming sets out to show (pret- 
ty convincingly) that Christianity is not based 
upon anything concrete. His key evidence is that 
Jesus' name never appeared in historical records 
until 70 A.D. and that Jesus' story is all too sim- 
ilar to other myths popular two to three thou- 
sand years ago. He also poses the question (in an 
interview with the compelling Sam Harris, 
author of New York Times bestseller, The End of 
Faith) of why religious discussion always seems 
to omit the question of evidence — why is it okay 
to believe that Jesus is the son of God but not to 
believe that aliens drew crop circles? The fact 
that Flemming grew up a devout, born-again 
Christian makes his struggle over Christianity's 
legitimacy all the more personal and somehow 
more valid. In one climactic and squeamishly 
fun scene, Flemming confronts his religious 
schools principal — much like Michael Moore 
squashing the vapid Charlton Heston in 
Bowlitigfor Columbine. Like Heston, the princi- 
pal ends the interview early. 

— Michael Moshan 



Girl 6, Anchor Bay Entertainment; 
www.anchorbayentertainment.com 

Spike Lee's film was released in 1996, and even 
though I had read the script early on (Spike, a 
friend, asked me to audition for a small role) and 
so knew what it was about, when I watched the 
film in the theater and again recently on DVD, I 
was reminded that I don't actually get the prem- 
ise: Phone sex is sexy. I remember Spike saying: 
"Haven't you ever been away from your boyfriend 
for a long time and you really miss him bad, and 
so you know, you, like, call him?" Like, call him 
call him? No. But maybe that's just me. If you can 
get past the premise of phone sex being not only 
sexy, but sassy and hip and a reasonable means to 
an end, you may well enjoy Girl 6. Theresa 
Randle, who has appeared in several of Spikes 
earlier films, shines with quiet charisma and a 
sweet, unassuming melancholy as Judy, aka Girl 
6, a frustrated aspiring actress who takes a job as 
a phone sex operator to pay the bills. There's the 
requisite Spike Lee role — Jimmy, the in-your-face 
best male Iriend with a crush — often, and alter- 
nately, the best and worst thing about his films. 
There's a cameo by Quentin Tarantino and 
Madonna in a real part (I bet she didn't have to 
audition), and a solid performance from the very 
talented Isaiah Washington, as Judy's ex. The 
script, by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (who later 
went on to win the Pulitzer for her play 
fopdog/ Underdog), is competent, but in the end 
doesn't really hold together. Notable, however, is 
the film's original score composed by Prince. 

— Rebecca Carroll 



6 The Independent I April 2006 



"> movingly human end many sided portioit of the Ml." n 
'Hittot ically. it's essential viewing." meana 




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21 BAYS IN THE EMPIRE'S EIGI 

Tio filmmakers from the GUEHfllLU MFWS NflWQBK spent three weeks e 
the frontlines of the wor in Ireq. gathering intelligence, dodging bullet: 
and capturing the untold stories of what has become the world's mos 
covered and misunderstood conflict. 

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'INTENSELY MOVING. 




BattleGround: 21 Days on the Empire's Edge, 
Home Vision Entertainment; www.homevi 
sion.com 

In what seems a bit like an ensemble docu- 
mentary, director Stephen Marshall leads us 
across post invasion-Iraq, introducing us to a 
plethora of characters, few of which we get to 
know well. But that is how Iraq comes alive — 
voices from every side are heard: the American 
army, Iraq's most popular blogger, the people, 
i.e. the resistance. The most palpable charac- 
ter is an ex-anti-Sadam guerilla whom 
Marshall follows as he returns to Iraq after 13 
years to reunite with his family. BattleGround, 
shot six months after the fall of Baghdad, 
paints a picture that — three years later — still 
seems to contain more images and informa- 
tion about the war than all the nightly news- 
casts since then, and Marshall does an impres- 
sive job of remaining relatively objective. The 
film is beautifully shot and edited, and the 
extended overtures, which look like music 
videos, are almost warranted by the way they 
compliment the stretches of Baghdad, that 
almost look like Miami. Most importantly, 
turn on the subtitles. Significant chunks are in 
Arabic, and even some of the English is hard 
to understand. 

— Erica Berenstein 



On Hostile Ground, www.onhostile 
ground.com 

"Between 1990 and 1999, violence against 
abortion providers included 97 arsons, 15 
bombings, 16 attempted murders, and 7 mur- 
ders." On Hostile Ground begins with these 
stunning statistics and, from there, introduces 
three local heroes, Dr. Richard Stuntz, Susan 
Cahill P.A.C., and Dr. Morris Wortman, who 
continue to provide abortion services despite 
the increasing hostility in their communities: 
Alabama, Montana and Rochester, New York 
respectively. The directors, Liz Mermin and 
Jenny Raskin, follow the doctors, their sup- 
port staff, and their families through small- 
town America with its vast expanses and 
quaint charm, slowly honing in on the reasons 
each has put aside their own fear of physical 
harm with every scene. Though occasionally 
one-note — the story is told almost entirely 
from the perspective of the abortion 
providers, and it is only in the last few min- 
utes that the viewer learns whether law 
enforcement has been successful in tracking 
down any of the violent offenders and then 
only in one case, a fairly large oversight — the 
film is still a moving portrayal of the risks 
some people take to ensure that women do in 
fact have the right to choose. As one character 
points out, if no one will perform abortions, 
they might as well be illegal. 

— Katherine Dykstra 



Ushpizin, www.ushpizin.com 

Ushpizin offers a rare glimpse into the insu- 
lated Orthodox Jewish community of 
Jerusalem's Breslau Chasidim. Secular director 
Gidi Dar teams with ex-actor-cum-ultra- 
orthodox-cum-screenplay-writer Shuli Rand, 
who stars as Moshe — a poor, childless rabbi 
who can neither afford the rent nor a succah 
(temporary house to celebrate the Jewish har- 
vest festival of Succoth). Out of options, 
Moshe and his wife, Malli (played by Rand's 
real wife Michal Bat Sheva Rand), pray with 
all of their might, and God delivers the great- 
est gift of all — cash (in an envelope slipped 
under the door). The couple interprets the gift 
(actually from a private donor) as a miracle, 
but when two of Moshe's crass friends from 
his pre-religious prison days unexpectedly 
crash the celebration, the couple's patience 
and faith are truly tested. If all of this smells 
like a religious fable, it is, so cynics beware. 
The film is heavy-handed (will Malli ever 
deliver Moshe a son — oy!) and preachy (God 
will answer your prayers/God is testing you if 
He doesn't). Ushpizin however still manages 
to deliver a sweet universal dramady of faith 
and kindness — that it was a mild hit with 
both Israel's religious and secular communi- 
ties is testament alone. 

— Michael Moshan 



April 2006 I The Independent 7 



Sundance Comes 
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By Nicole Davis 

Shortly after Sundance 
2006, Robert Redford 
told the press that he 
thinks the festival, now consid- 
ered by many to be a weeklong 
winter bacchanal, is "close to 
being out of control." According 
to him, the annual festival was 
supposed to be just one tiny part 
of the Sundance Institute — the 



arts organization he founded in 
1985 to foster work in a myriad 
of creative disciplines, from 
music to theater to filmmaking. 

It was here at the Sundance 
Institute in 2004 that Jonathan 
Rose, a board member at the 
Brooklyn Academy of Music 
(BAM) and owner of a develop- 
ment firm that helped build the 




8 The Independent I April 2006 



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Sundance Village, first met "Bob" 
and began talking to him about 
his vision for the festival and the 
Institute. 

"He expressed frustration that 
the full-breadth of Sundance 
wasn't adequately represented in 
New York, but he felt that there 
was a really deep potential con- 
nection [there], and it became 
really clear to me that BAM was 
the perfect institution to be the 
Sundance partner," said Rose, 
who convinced Redford to visit 
BAM in the spring of 2004. He 
was sold after a single visit. 

"He called me and said 'This 
is fabulous — right place, perfect 
people, let's go."' It took two 
more years to work out the exact 
details of the partnership, but this 
spring New Yorkers will be treat- 
ed to the first annual "Creative 
Latitude," a 10-day festival that 
will bting Sundance program- 
ming to the oldest continually 
operating performing arts center 
in America. From May 11-20, 
BAM will screen six shorts and 
12 dramatic and documentary 
features from the Utah festival, 
plus highlights from the 
Sundance Institute's other pro- 
grams. 

"We are really kicking this off 
with film, but the goal really is to 
include the other art forms at 
Sundance," says Rose. That 
includes important plays like 
Angels in America, an example of 
the caliber of work that is work- 
shopped at Sundance. In 
exchange, BAM will benefit from 
being associated with such a big 
name in independent film. 

"BAM does have the wonder- 
ful Cinamatek program where we 
show art films and [repertory 
programming], but my sense is 
that film programming is better 
known in Brooklyn than all of 
New York. And so this will defi- 
nitely bring more focus on the 
extraordinary film programming 
at BAM." 



Join Ironweed. DVD arrives. 



Watch the DVD. 





Find a local 
Ironweed film club. 
Or start your own. 



Ironweed works to create public discourse around its films 



It might even shed light on a members to become active 
more surprising connection around issues broached by the 
between the two arts institutes: social-issue docs they receive each 
The majority of filmmakers in month. They also offer quirky 
the Sundance program come membership benefits like a vial of 
from Brooklyn. 

"So there was already an inter- 
nal Brooklyn-Sundance relation- 
ship," says Rose. 



Move Over Columbia 
House: Online DVD- 
of-the-Month Clubs 
Have Arrived 

By Erica Berenstein 

^"Nnline DVD clubs like Film 
\J Movement and Ironweed 
Film Club are trying to take 
Netflix one step further. 

Film Movement (www.film- 
movement.com, $19.95/month) 
which has been mailing out one 
foreign or independent festival- 
favorite a month since 2003, 
encourages members to get 
involved in discussions about the 
film, screening groups, and 
online communities. Ironweed, 
(www.ironweedfilms.com, 
$l4.95/month), launched in 
December 2005, has been called 
"Netflix for lefties," and urges 




Adam Werbach of Ironweed 

water taken illegally from the Rio 
Grande River and packed by 
immigrant workers, which was an 
attempt to highlight issues of 
immigrant labor. 

Adam Werbach, the founder 
and president of Ironweed, 
believes pairing entertainment 
and activism can inspire 
"Americans who believe that 
today's mainstream culture and 
politics are failing to serve the 
country well." Ironweed's 
February DVD includes festival- 



winner Seoul Train, directed by 
Jim Butterworth, Aaron 
Lubarsky, and Lisa Sleeth. The 
film explores an underground 
network that helps North Korean 
refugees flee to China, where they 
live in hiding. If caught by the 
Chinese authorities, they are 
repatriated — in violation of inter- 
national law — to an uncertain 
future of imprisonment, torture, 
and death. On the Ironweed 
website, viewers can watch an 
interview with the filmmakers or 
a clip of Republican Senator Sam 
Brownback urging people to get 
involved. Amnesty International 
is a presenting partner, and view- 
ers can sign a Petition to Stand 
Up for Human Rights in North 
Korea, as well as follow links to 
Doctors Without Borders and 
Human Rights Watch. The site 
also explains how those motivat- 
ed to get involved can host house 
parties to screen the film or find 
house parties being given in their 
area. 

Stuart Litman, executive 
director of Film Movement, 
thinks Ironweed is "doing a great 
thing," but he worries that their 
focus on social activism and net- 
working, rather than business 
and entertainment, might be a 
hindrance to their survival. Film 
Movement's success, according to 
Litman, is partly due to its 
attempt to brand itself under a 
label ("bringing the festival expe- 
rience to your house") which has 
afforded them greater market 
power and allowed them to do 
business with giants such as 
Blockbuster and Netflix, who, 
Litman says, are starting to realize 
that "they can make more money 
off independents than Mission 
Impossible 3." Some of Film 
Movement's films are now shown 
on Continental Airlines flights. 

Despite slightly different 
goals, however, Werbach and 
Litman agree that this kind of 
online distribution of hard-to- 



April 2006 I The Independent 9 



Find indies will soon be much 
more prevalent, making it easier 
for cineastes to see films once 
onlv accessible to festival-goers. 

Virtual Travel 

By Leah Hochbaum 



Everyone knows their own 
neighborhoods natural 

rhythms and kooky characters. 
They know the best gelato store, 
which lazy-eyed grocer to avoid, 



movies are made by professional 
filmmakers who've been sent out 
to probe the intricacies and issues 
unique to a particular locale. 

"I grew up in the Bay Area," 
said Michael Coleman, a director 
who made TurnHere's start-up 
video and has helmed films on 
Vail, Boston, and San Francisco. 
"But I felt like an expert on 
DUMBO after producing a piece 
on the Brooklyn neighborhood." 

The films are available to 
download for free to video iPods 
and other mobile devices. 




Competitive eater Crazy Legs Conti's New York TurnHere tour 



and the local bar that waters down 
the drinks. But tourists rarely get 
to see these things, which is why 
former journalist Bradley Inman 
decided to launch Turnhere.com, 
a website that streams two- to five- 
minute videos, each providing an 
insider's perspective on a specific 
geographic area. 

"I've always been interested in 
how we interact with our commu- 
nities," said Inman, who used to 
write a column for the San 
Francisco Chronicle called "Living 
in the Bay Area." He views the site 
as a "video version of sites like 
Citysearch.com." 

Inman also intends TurnHere 
to be "the first community for 
professional internet filmmakers" 
since so many of them have been 
"kicked around and abused by 
Hollywood." And indeed, all the 



Turnhere.com streamed 250,000 
videos a month before it even 
launched in early February, and 
Inman anticipates adding 20 to 50 
films each month, eventually 
housing more than 1,000. During 
our 15-minute phone interview, 
new videos from Montclair, New 
Jersey and San Francisco's Mission 
region were added to the site. 

"Our vision is to document 
neighborhoods all over the 
world," Inman says, adding that 
films chronicling parts of 
Bangkok, Paris, and Canada will 
soon be uploaded to the site. He 
hopes that the site's user-friendly 
manner — software doesn't need to 
be downloaded; just press play — 
will make it a logical destination 
for would-be vacationers. Or for 
people like himself, who have a 
natural curiosity for places they've 



never been. 

"America's fabric is far more 
interesting than Hollywood 
would have us believe," he says. 

Round-the- 
Clock DOCs 

By Simone Swink 



Launched in early 2006, the 
Documentary Channel 

(DOC) aims to "show the best 
independent documentaries to 
the most people we can," says 
president Tom NefF. To accom- 
plish that, DOC is now airing 24 
hours a day to DISH Network's 
12 million subscribers. 

The success of high profile 
features like Fahrenheit 9/11 and 
March of the Penguins convinced 
NefF that there was a market for a 
channel devoted exclusively to 
indie docs. There is a surfeit of 
award-winning documentary 
film content that never makes it 
onto television or outside of art- 
house theatres. And though cable 
channels like Discovery and 
HBO air docs that fit their niches 
in the broadcast spectrum, until 
now, no singular channel for inde- 
pendent documentary film has 
ever existed. 

DOCs annual network feed 
will include 250 hours of pro- 
gramming, including 70 Oscar- 
winning or nominated films, as 
well as a number of Sundance and 
Telluride winners. Many of the 
films licensed will have their 
American or world television pre- 
mieres on the Documentary 
Channel. 

NefT notes that the channel 
purchases "quarterly, although the 
search for programming is natu- 
rally ongoing. We would like to be 
3 to 9 months ahead: That is, we 
work out the licensing deal with 
the filmmaker/distributor, and it 
takes about 4 months to get it on 



the air from the close of the deal." 
Also, there are no restrictions on 
subject matter. "We only ask that 
they be good," NefF says. "We take 
docs of all lengths, genres, and date 
of production from classics to cut- 
ting edge." He adds that the pro- 
gramming staff tends to be partial 
to shorts because they "recognize 
the busy schedule of viewers and 
the lack of venues for short docs." 

Check out the schedule, the submis- 
sions policy, and the amusing blog 
at www. documentarychannel. com. 




Chris Penn, whose prolific 
work in independent film 
spanned more than two decades, 
died on January 24 from an 
enlarged heart and the effects of 
multiple medications. Known for 
taking regular-Joe roles, Penn was 
probably best known for his part 
as Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir 
Dogs (1992) — although he also 
appeared in True Romance, 
Rumble Fish and more recently 
Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang) and Corky 
Romano. The younger brother of 
Academy Award-winning actor 
Sean Penn, Chris began acting at 
1 2 years old. The Darwin Awards, 
Penn's latest film, debuted at 
Sundance 2006. He will be 
missed. 



10 The Independent I April 2006 




Ask the Documentary Doctor 





By Fernanda Rossi 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

How can I get my work onto public television? 

There are many doors into the labyrinthine world or 
public television. Some are open to you as a producer sans 
project, others are open to your project. Gustavo 
Sagastume, vice president of programming at PBS, 
explains: "PBS is not a network. Even though it looks like 
a single entity, it's, in reality, a confederation of like-mind- 
ed institutions working together as a group. Its similar to a 
school of fish. At a distance, it looks like one big fish, but 
on closer look you can see that it's a lot offish swimming 
together." 

Sagastume suggests a few blueprints for a good catch. 
One is to get hired by a PBS station to produce local pro- 
gramming. Check out www.pbs.org for a list of stations and 
job openings in your city. You might not get to work on 
your own film, but producing can pave the way, while earn- 
ing you money and experience. 

Another option is to work for one of the series that 
makes up national programming, such as "Nature," 
"Nova," or "Great Performances." These series are either 
produced by independent production companies that cater 
to PBS or PBS stations that act as production studios, such 
as WNET, WGBH, etc. In both cases, check the credits of 
the series and contact the executive producer or senior pro- 



ducer. You can start 
as an associate pro- 
ducer and eventual- 
ly become the pro- 
ducer of your own 
project — as long as 
your idea fits within 
the premise of the 
series. 

Yet another 

option is to develop 
your own project 
with or without 
funding from pub- 
lic broadcasting 
associates, such as ITVS and/or the National Minority 
Consortia. Then you can send your project to series that 
welcome independent producers and their films, such as 
"P.O.V." and "Independent Lens." If you received funding 
from ITVS and/or the National Minority Consortia, your 
contract automatically gives PBS the right of first refusal. A 
successful run on either of those series can lead to future 
wotk on other PBS series. 

It might seem a gruesomely long undertaking, but look 
at it this way: you'll get to work, get paid, and do what you 
love along the way. 




April 2006 I The Independent 11 



Magnolia 



Film Festival 

Feb. 15, 16,4 17, 2007 - Starkville, MS 



Our 10th annual "Mag" welcomes 
all genres, all lengths, in competition 
for awards. The "Mag" was founded 
by Ron Tibbett to celebrate his vision 
of Independent film in Mississippi. It 
has been called the most filmmaker 
friendly festival by many of our past 
contributers. Entry fees are $25 feature, 
$15 shorts and $10 student film. We 
are proud partners with Rhode Island 
International Film Festival, Tupelo 
Film Festival, Crossroads Film Festival 
and Indie Memphis. 

We look forward to seeing you down in the deep South! 





Entry Forms: Download at www.magfilmfest.com 
or write to: Festival Director 

2269 Waverly Drive 

West Point, MS 39773 



Phone: (662) 494-5836 
Fax: (662) 494-9900 



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MFA IN WRITING 

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THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

I hear a lot about hard and soft feeds in 
PBS programming. What are they, and 
what do they mean? 

Don't let the jargon intimidate you. Hard 
and soft feeds refer to the type of membership 
service by which PBS — which has headquar- 
ters in Virginia — provides programming to its 
affiliates across the country. 

The hard feed with common carriage is the 
service that includes all children's programs 
and prime time shows, i.e. "News Hour," 
"Frontline," "Nova," "American Experience." 
These programs are broadcast by all stations in 
a time slot assigned by PBS headquarters, plus 
or minus two hours to adjust for time zone. 
Failure to do so carries a penalty for the sta- 
tion. For you as a producer, this means your 
work will be seen by almost 90 percent of the 
PBS audience. 

The hard feed programming without com- 
mon carriage, for example "Independent 
Lens," allows local stations to choose whether 
or not they broadcast a certain programas well 
as in which time slot. In that case, your proj- 
ect will be seen by approximately 80 percent 
of the PBS audience. 

Then there are two type of soft feeds: PBS 
Plus comprises 700 hours of programming 
that stations can use at their discretion and 
include shows like "The Charlie Rose Show" 
and "This Old House." The fundraising pro- 
gram services include all the pledges that raise 
funds for PBS and afford producers exposure 
to 65 to 70 percent of the PBS audience. 

Clearly the hard feed carries more prestige 
because it translates into larger audience num- 
bers, but there is a labor-intensive alternative: 
If you budget for "station relations," you can 
market your program to each local station. If 
successful, you could end up with the same 
amount of viewers as you would with a single 
hard feed. 

Regardless of percentages and numbers, the 
ultimate question is: Where does your film reach 
the right audience? Considering the amount of 
viewers PBS has, a small percentage of its audi- 
ence still means a few million people, "k 

Fernanda Rossi, a filmmaker and story 
consultant, is the author o/Trailer Mechanics: A 
Cuide to Making Your Documentary 
Fundraising Trailer. 



12 The Independent I April 2006 




Paula Kerger, New York public television's in-house 
darling, gets ready to take the reigns at PBS 



By Katherine Dykstra 



M 



idway through our conversa- 
tion, Paula Kerger, who in 
March became PBS's sixth 
president and CEO, told me that the first 
time she saw Wendy Wasserstein's 
Uncommon Women and Others was form- 
ative. "I remember when that play aired 
on public television," Kerger says, "I 
thought about it for such a long time 
after Id seen it. At the time, I was about 
the age of the women in the play... Well, 
you know..." She looked at me from 
across her desk, seeking a sign of recogni- 
tion, understanding. But, having never 
seen the play, I could only shake my head 
and quietly admit: "I actually don't know 
it." Kerger's eyes went wide and, pounding 



her fist on the table in front of her for 
emphasis, she said, "Well, ive are going to 
get you a copy!" 

Less than two weeks after our interview, 
I received a package from the Educational 
Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), parent 
to Thirteen/WNET and WLIW New 
York. Inside was a hand-written note: "It 
was a pleasure meeting you. As promised, 
enclosed is a copy of Uncommon Women. 
All the best, Paula" 

Although the board of directors at PBS 
chose Kerger, 48, to lead for many good 
reasons — among them, her firsthand 
understanding of the public broadcasting 
system (she's been at EBC — renamed in 
2001 when WNET merged with 



WLIW — for 13 years), her fundraising 
prowess (she oversaw Campaign for 
Thirteen, which raised $79 million, the 
largest endowment operation ever under- 
taken by a public television station), and 
her forward thinking (she directed the 
launch of lour digital channels; 
ThirteenHD, Kids Thirteen, World, and 
Create) — it's clear that what makes Kerger 
ideal for this job is more basic. It's her gen- 
uine desire to share experience, to learn 
and to teach, to connect. During our 
interview, she thought I might be moved 
by a play that had moved her, and so she 
took steps to put that play in my hands — 
exactly what she does, albeit on a much 
larger scale, for WNET and now for PBS. 



April 2006 I The Independent 13 




Kerger and Thirteen/WNET host, Rafael Pi Roman, garner support during a New York Life-hosted membership pledge drive. 



For Kerger, the broadcast of WNET's 
programming is not the end but a means. 
The series and shows are simply begin- 
nings, platforms from which other ideas 
and initiatives can leap and live on in the 
community. In February, WNET ran a 
documentary series called "African- 
American Lives." Produced by Kunhardt 
Productions and narrated by scholar 
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the series used 
genealogy and science to trace the lineag- 
es of nine prominent African Americans, 
including Whoopi Goldberg and Quincy 
Jones. But rather than air the documen- 
tary and be done with it, the station part- 
nered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of 
America and Ancestry.com to enable 
children across the country to uncover 
their own personal histories by accessing 
public records. It also initiated work- 
shops in order to bring the content from 
the original series into classrooms around 
the country. 

"I think so much of what public tele- 
vision is about is not what flickers over 
the screen and then goes into the ether, 
but it's 'So what? So what does that mean 
to you as an individual?'" Kerger says. 



"We are reaching out in a way that a 
commercial broadcaster is not going to 
do. We are the only ones out there, in a 
very crowded landscape, where our goal 
at the end of the day is not to return 
money to a shareholder. There's great 
work that's going on in commercial tele- 
vision, there's really great work on cable, 
but their motivation in doing the work 
that they're doing, you know, it's artistic, 
it's all creative enterprise, but their final 
accountability is a financial one, and for 
us, our only accountability is to serve the 
people in the community." 

Not a simple task when you factor in 
the complexity of PBS's 348 relatively 
autonomous member stations, the limit- 
ed resources inherent to all not-for-prof- 
its (in 2005 PBS's operating revenue was 
$340.2 million), a complicated political 
landscape that includes constant pressure 
from Congress as well as the Corporation 
for Public Broadcasting, the organization 
that allots federal funds to PBS, and a 
responsibility to an astounding 90 mil- 
lion viewers reached each week via on-air 
and online content. 

"Public television is an institution like 



no other, it's radically decentralized, loose 
in federation, it has 300-plus member 
stations each of whom is independent," 
explains documentary filmmaker Ric 
Burns, whose New York: A Documentary 
Film aired as part of the "American 
Experience" series in 1999, and whose 
Eugene O'Neill: A Documentary Film will 
air on the same series in March. "And 
Paula Kerger knows it better than any 
one alive." 

Despite early career indecision, 
Kerger's rise was relatively direct. Raised 
in Baltimore, she entered college believ- 
ing she would end up in medical school. 
However, "a year into it I decided that I 
was never going to make it through 
organic chemistry. Then I took a lot of 
arts courses because I was really interest- 
ed in literature and so forth, but not 
because I knew what I wanted to do with 
my life." Four years later, "I panicked and 
thought I'd never be gainfully employed 
and got a degree in business administra- 
tion but knew I didn't really want to 
work in business." 

The combination of arts and com- 
merce proved the right one for nonprofit 



14 The Independent I April 2006 



development work. Kerger landed her 
first job fundraising and working with 
lobbyists at UNICEF after following a 
random lead in the Washington Post — "It 
was kismet," she says. That same job took 
her to New York and eventually to a posi- 
tion working in development at the 
Metropolitan Opera, which was where 
Bill Baker, Thirteen/WNET's president, 
found her. "When I hired her she'd never 
been in a television station," says Baker. 
"But I quickly saw how good she was and 
how capable she was in areas beyond just 
development, so I kept giving her more 
responsibility and kept coaching her 
along and there she is." 

Kerger rapidly scaled the WNET lad- 
der, beginning as the vice president of 
development and, eight years later, going 
on to become station manager, and final- 
ly, four years ago, the executive vice pres- 
ident and chief operating officer. Though 
he's loath to lose her, Baker wasn't sur- 
prised when, after former PBS president 
Pat Mitchell announced plans to step 
down just over a year ago, the board cre- 
ated to conduct a nationwide search to 
replace Mitchell landed on Kerger. "She 
understands that the strength is in the 
stations and that PBS is a membership 
organization and not a network," he says. 

And she does, as is evident by her 
grassroots approach to bringing in money 
and talent. 

"I think that sitting in this chair, here, 
one of the biggest frustrations has been 
talking to filmmakers that have really 
great ideas and not being able to have the 
resources to help them bring the works to 
life," Kerger says. "Last year, we worked 
on this series with Michael Kantor on the 
history of the American musical theater, 
called "Broadway." It took us seven years 
to raise the money for that project. . . And 
that project was a success because we got 
it on the air. 

"What I'm hoping to do is work with 
the stations around the country that have 
relationships with people in their com- 
munity that care about some of the dif- 
ferent genres of work that we do," Kerger 
says about bolstering up support for the 
already in place PBS Foundation. "I 
think there are a lot of people around the 
country that are really passionate about 
what we do." 



For Kerger, independent film and PBS 
is an obvious combination. "These days 
there are more outlets for independent 
film. There's the Sundance Channel, 
HBO has picked up some indie work, 
but in terms of access, public television is 
available to 99.5 percent of the American 
public, and HBO is available to a much 
smaller group of people who have the 
ability to pay for premium television," 
she says. "I think that if you are a film- 
maker and creating work that you're hop- 
ing is going to touch lives, what you 
want to try to do is get your work out to 
as wide an audience as possible." 

Kerger says the key to seeking out the 
next generation of filmmakers, especially 
those without the resources to produce 
their own work or even the means to find 
their way to PBS, will be to tap local sta- 
tions' network of raw talent in local com- 
munities, while simultaneously embrac- 
ing the filmmakers PBS already works 
with. 

Despite the never-ending financial 
woes facing a not-for-profit member- 
ship organization like PBS, Kerger envi- 
sions a technologically savvy future, one 
that includes VOD for PBS shows, mul- 
ticast channels, podcasted content, high 
definition, and web-streaming, some of 
which PBS has already begun to experi- 
ment with. 

"The whole media industry has shifted, 
people want media when they can get it," 
Kerger says. "I think that looking forward, 
really being able to think about the con- 
tent that we develop, and trying to be a bit 
agnostic about what platforms end up 
being distributed on, would be helpful. 

"The thing that I really love about 
public television is that you never really 
know what you're going to get on a given 
night. When I sit home at night and I'm 
clicking though the TV — as a consumer, 
not as someone who works here — I 
always go to [Channel] 13 first. I can 
never remember what's on our schedule 
on any night because we work so far 
out," Kerger says. "I'll start watching 
something that I had no intention of 
watching, but it draws me in because I'm 
learning something.. ..I'm interested in 
understanding why, and so for me, pub- 
lic television has been an amazing 
home." "A" 




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O 



State of 





How one filmmaker realized that terror abroad would 
lead to the truth about terror at home 



By Pamela Yates 

The Last Shot 

The mobs were ferocious and loud. 
They were beating policemen, looting 
government buildings, and smashing the 
cameras of local media. I feared that they 
would turn on us. We were shooting the 
last scene of State of Fear, which docu- 
ments the legacy of Peru's war on terror, 
but to the rioters we were photographing 
their incriminating deeds. In the midst of 
tear gas and stones hurled from sling- 
shots, this riot scene, which turned out to 
be the opening sequence of our film, 
became emblematic of a traumatized cit- 
izenry who no longer believed in the rule 
of law. 

I had been shooting in Peru for two 
years before we arrived at the riots in 



Ayacucho, a provincial capital in the high 
Andes of Peru. Ayacucho is the birthplace 
of the Shining Path, a Maoist insurgency 
whose violent acts triggered an epic 20- 
year war on terror by the Peruvian state 
that ended in 2000 with the collapse of 
President Alberto Fujimori's autocratic 
regime. Producer Paco de Oni's and I, 
along with our Peruvian crew, had come 
to this violence-plagued city in 2004 to 
film a look back at the terrible years that 
brought Peruvian democracy to its knees. 
I always wish that the last day of shoot- 
ing could be the first. I wish that at the 
start of principal photography I could 
possess all the accumulated knowledge, 
wisdom, camaraderie, problem-solving 
techniques, and collaborations developed 



over the course of making a film. But 
that's never the case. State of Fear was a 
three-year journey of discovery that 
began in 2001 when the Peruvian State 
announced it was convening a Truth and 
Reconciliation Commission and would 
be the first Latin American country to 
hold public hearings. For the first time in 
the country's history, the victims, rather 
than the perpetrators, would get to write 
history. The Truth Commission was also 
going to exhaustively examine what had 
actually happened during the internal 
war — much of which was unknown due 
to the clandestine nature of Shining Path, 
and the secrecy and corruption that 
enveloped the state's response. 

The Truth Commissioners chose to 



16 The Independent I April 2006 



entrust us with all the ins and outs of 
their research, their writings, the ways 
they came to their conclusions because 
we were a U.S. /Peruvian co-production. 
Paco and I were the only Americans, and 
we had three well-known Peruvians on 
our team: Ana Caridad Sanchez, the co- 
producer, Juan Duran, the cinematogra- 
pher, and Chicho Durant, the consulting 
producer. The commissioners introduced 
us to witnesses and shared the extensive 
collection of archival videotapes and pho- 
tographs that their staff had compiled to 
visually document the war. They seemed 
to understand that our film would allow 
their work to live on long after their final 
report was delivered. They knew that 
those 5,000 pages were a valuable record 
of Peru's collective memory, but that few 
people would actually read them all and 
that State of Fear would be a condensed 
version of their findings framed in an 
emotionally compelling narrative. 

Finding the Story 

Engaging American audiences in for- 
eign subjects is a challenge, and through- 
out this process, I was concerned about 
how this epic Peruvian story would inter- 
est Americans. Why would they care? 
What could they learn for their own 
lives? How do we make history com- 
pelling in a nonfiction narrative? 

It was in the intense atmosphere of the 
Truth Commission's public hearings that 
Paco and I discovered the hook: There 
were startling parallels between Peru's war 
and the unfolding U.S. global war on ter- 
ror. Both involved the use of a conven- 
tional military response to an insurgency, 
the undermining of democratic institu- 
tions in the name of fighting terrorism, 
government's use of fear to justify author- 
itarian measures and expanded powers, 
and the manipulation of media to influ- 
ence public opinion. We decided that 
State of Fear could be a cautionary tale for 
U.S. and international audiences as well 
as a revelation for Peruvians who only 
know part of their own story. 

As Paco and I started filming, we were 
in constant discussions with Peter 
Kinoy — the film's editor and my film- 



making partner for 25 years — about how what they did and what they saw, they 
to frame the footage in a universal con- finally agreed to go on camera. The hard- 
text. Together we developed an approach est people to convince inevitably turned 
to the characters that went against con- out to be the most compelling: The 
ventional wisdom: focus on many charac- Child Soldier, The Marine, The Shining 
ters instead of a few and use a cinematic Path Follower, and The General. My 
style that juxtaposes the incredible visual most important discovery was former 
beauty of the country against one of the Fujimori congresswoman, Beatriz Alva 
most violent chapters of its history (The Hart. 1 met her when she worked on the 
war is second only to the Spanish Truth Commission, and after listening to 
Conquest). I believe that one of the most the victims' testimony, she realized what 

her social class had 
done, making her able 
to comment honestly 
and apologize pub- 
licly. This blonde, 
smart, wealth wom- 
an represents the 
quintessential by- 
stander who saw 
what was going on 
but did nothing to 
stop it; she is also the 
character that most 
American and Euro- 
pean audiences relate 
to, as we struggle 
with our own impo- 

In Peru, many children were stripped of their childhood tence Wltn regards to 

stopping an immoral, 

magnificent cinematic landscapes is the and arguably illegal, war. 
geography of the human face. Peru, with 

its diverse coastal, Andean, and jungle Identifying the Heroes 
populations, is no exception. I had a 12- It is a maxim in cinema that there 
by 9-foot portable, spandex green screen must be a good guy. In our case, the good 
manufactured, and everywhere we went guys were extremely hard to find. It was 
we set it up and filmed portraits of only in the editing room that we realized 
Peruvians so I could marry these unusual that the heroes of the story were the iso- 
faces with their searing looks to other lated human rights advocates, who were 
images in the film. tenaciously documenting everything that 
After working as a producer with went on while simultaneously trying to 
Michael Moore on two seasons of "TV stop it at great personal risk. As the 
Nation" for NBC and Fox, I learned to human rights movement grew, the 
go after the most difficult people — those groups established a National 
who don't want to talk to you — first. So Coordinating Committee (La 
when we started State of Fear, I went into Coordinadora National de Derechos 
the prison where Shining Path militants Humanos) and became the most organ- 
were held. I listened to their stories for ized human rights movement in all of 
hours. I began to build relationships with Latin American history. In the final days 
people who had served in the Peruvian of the Fujimori government, as Peruvians 
Armed Forces, and after two years of took to the streets in mass protests it was 
explaining to perpetrators on both sides the human rights movement that coordi- 
of the war how important it is to tell nated and led the charge to get Fujimori 




April 2006 I The Independent 17 




The Ashaninka people are indigenous to Peru. Here, a group of militiamen. 



out. The National Coordinating 
Committee then went on to pressure the 
transitional government to empower the 
Truth and Reconciliation Commission as 
part of the country's return to democracy. 
As we were finishing State of Fear, the 
Madrid train stations were bombed, and 
we were inspired by the fact that the 
Spanish response to the bombings was 
political rather than military. Tens of 
thousands of Spaniards took to the streets 
in cities across the country with banners 
that read, "Against terror, for Peace, with- 
in the Constitution." Within days they 
elected a president who pulled Spanish 
troops out of Iraq and committed his 
administration to fighting terrorism — 
legally. 



How Far We've Come 

The greatest achievement of the 
Peruvian Truth Commission and, by 
extension, State of Fear, was that it 
changed the official version of history, 
rewriting it from the perspective of Peru's 
victims, its disenfranchised, and its poor. 
After Fujimori's recent arrest in Chile and 
the pending extradition request from the 
Peruvian government to try him on 
charges of crimes against humanity and 
corruption, Peru's national television sta- 
tion, Channel 7, began showing State of 
Fear weekly to remind Peruvians that 
their ex-president had caused untold suf- 
fering and death, and had wrecked their 
democracy. 

State of Fear not only parallels the 



American struggle to defend ourselves 
while preserving our democratic rights, 
but the film has also been embraced by 
human rights and pro-democracy advo- 
cates around the world — Russia/ 
Chechnya, Nepal, Israel/Palestine, 
Colombia and Northern Ireland — who 
also find themselves caught in a cycle of 
violence. Just recently Al Jazeera 
icensed State of Fear to show across the 
Arab world, and National Geographic 
Channels International led off their 
new series "No Borders" by translating 
our film into 45 languages and broad- 
casting it in 145 countries — an excel- 
lent 25th birthday present for Skylight 
Pictures. * 



State of Fear was supported by the Ford 
Foundation, the Sundance Documentary 
Fund, and the United States Institute of Peace. 

For information about where State of Fear 
is screening in the U.S. and internationally, 
please go to www.skylightpictures.com. 
hiternational Sales Agent: Films Transit 
International: www.fi Imstran sit.com. For edu- 
cational DVDs go to www.newday.com 
Ifilmslstateoffear. html. 



18 The Independent I April 2006 



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By Macauley Peterson 

J / | ■ verything does make sense 
^^" in this movie," claimed 
Laws Chicago-based filmmaker 
Jim Finn when he introduced his 
experimental, pseudo-documentary film, 
Interkosmos, at the 2006 International 
Film Festival Rotterdam. 

Finn seemed to be preempting criti- 
cism that his 70-minute feature, part of 
IFFR's Sturm und Drang program of fea- 
tures and documentaries by young film- 
makers investigating new angles in cine- 
matography, was confusing or even dis- 
jointed — not the sort of introduction 
that usually inspires audience confidence. 
Yet, viewed from the right figurative 



angle, Interkosmos, was an intriguing 
genre-bending fantasy. It posited the exis- 
tence of a secret space program of the 
Soviet-dominated German Democratic 
Republic (a.k.a. East Germany) during 
the 1970s. The visual motif was '70s doc- 
umentary; the footage appeared to come 
from the bowels of some long lost 
Communist film archive. 

"The real basis of the film," says Finn, 
who also stars, "aside from my obsession 
with Communism, was my fantasy about 
a Utopian space exploration program." 
The general lack of knowledge in the 
West about the GDR and communism 
gave Finn a lot of leeway to invent his 



own reality. Rather than making a 
straight faux documentary, however, Finn 
deliberately cut documentary-like ele- 
ments, aiming for a more experimental 
work. Add to the mix a series of musical 
numbers, and it's easy to understand how 
some viewers could get lost. 

It wasn't a shock when the Dutch audi- 
ence not only followed the plot, but 
seemed quite taken by the visual style and 
anachronistic musical sequences. Indeed, 
Rotterdam has always focused on innova- 
tive, independent cinema from around 
the world, embracing the more offbeat, 
non-commercial undertakings. In addi- 
tion to Sturm und Drang, the IFFR 



April 2006 I The Independent 19 




Rotterdam's Pathe Theater, host to the festival, glows from the middle of Schouwburgplein in 2005 



annually includes other features pro- 
grams, as well as several short programs. 
These range from "Maestros: Kings and 
Aces," Rotterdam's selection of films 
from master auteurs, to "Time and Tide," 
focusing on "the heartbeat of the world," 
with features and documentaries that 
reveal the social, political, and cultural 
commitment of filmmakers. And, since 
1995, the annual Tiger Awards competi- 
tive program puts around 15 films to an 
international jury responsible for doling 
out three Si 0,000 prizes. 

The 2006 fest added a special program 
entitled "White Light" (a reference to a 
Velvet Underground song), which offered 
a series of "drugs-driven" films including, 
"hallucinating cinema," billed as a "neg- 
lected but important part of experimental 
filmmaking," and "narco cinema" in 
which drugs are intimately linked to plot 
in various ways. The Holland premiere of 
a film like Andy Fickman's Reefer 
Madness, a musical parody of a 1936 
American anti-drug propaganda film, 



certainly spawned a crass joke or two, but 
"White Light" also showcased many seri- 
ous and sombre tales on the negative 
effects of drug addiction, including one 
of the best-titled films in the festival, 
Gucci Crack heads Battle Nihilism, the 
story of a San Francisco cocaine junkie. 

In all, some 450 filmmakers attended 
the 12-day event, which screened films 
from 65 countries, and attracted 358,000 
viewers. As anyone who's attended a festi- 
val of this size can attest, one of the great- 
est challenges for fest-goers was simply 
deciding which films to see. The 20 ven- 
ues scattered around downtown 
Rotterdam each played between two and 
six films a day, so a prime time slot might 
offer nearly 20 choices. Add to that, late 
night "talk show" panel discussions, exhi- 
bitions, and other ancillary events, (and 
yes, the parties) and you have to be pre- 
pared for a hectic schedule. 

One of the more obscure programs 
was offered by the Moscow-based Cine 
Fantom film club, which was built upon 



the mid-'80s counterculture movement 
of director Igor Aleynikov and now serves 
as a champion of, and screening venue 
for, new Russian cinema, which is largely 
independent of state sponsorship. The 
program featured original works by the 
late Aleynikov and his brother Gleb, as 
well as by video artist Boris Yukhananov, 
and a new generation of Russian avant- 
garde director-artists and independents. 

Notable among the later group was 
Manga, from visual-effects-guru-cum- 
director, Petr Khazizov. Manga is set in the 
urban jungle of contemporary Moscow, in 
which the lives of two reckless teenagers, a 
beautiful young model and a wealthy 
pseudo-intellectual, become entwined 
through a series of bizarre occurrences. 
The film blurs the line between reality and 
imagination as the teenagers seem to slip 
in and out of a video game, and as the 
events of the movie unfold, the viewer is 
forced to question his/her expectations of 
what is real. 

Manga won the prize for Best 



20 The Independent I April 2006 



International Feature at the New York 
Independent Film Festival last 
November. It is utterly unlike the 
Western stereotype of "Russian cinema," 
which favors labored pacing and heavy 
use of "psychological camera move- 
ment" — slow, with a preference for close- 
ups. Khazizov cites Manga as part of a 
new style of cinematography in Russia 
(after the relative paucity of films and 
scant cinematic innovation in the '90s.) 
He wants Russian film to free itself from 
cliches and to reflect the changing situa- 
tion in Russia. Part of what makes Manga 
stand out is the frequent use of telescop- 
ic crane shots to achieve fluid, dreamlike, 
three-dimensional camera moves. 

Khazizov's visual effects house, 
Cinemateka, has been a pioneer in the 
field of digital effects in Russian film, and 
he advocates for the broad use of CGI, 
"not just for monsters." Despite its 
whizbang visual appeal, Manga was pro- 
duced independent of state or Russian 
TV sponsorship lor a modest $710,000. 

When asked whether the current polit- 
ical climate in Russia hinders independent 
artistic expression, Khazizov was noncha- 
lant, saying that he has encountered no 
government resistance to his own work. 
Although he has yet to make an overtly 
political film, he insists that there are no 
barriers to doing so, but his cynicism 
towards politics generally leads him to 
look elsewhere for storylines. 

De facto government censorship is the 
subject of the documentary Viva 
Zapatero!, a product of Italian satirist and 
television star Sabina Guzzanti. Imagine if 
the Bush administration got Comedy 
Central to cancel "The Daily Show," and 
then Jon Stewart decided to make a docu- 
mentary about it. That's the gist of Viva 
Zapatero!. (Guzzanti says she had never 
heard of Jon Stewart until she went to 
Sundance this year, where many festival- 
goers asked her if she was a fan.) 

The title of her documentary is a riff off 
the 1952 biopic Viva Zapata!, directed by 
Elia Kazan, but it substitutes the name of 
Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, a sym- 
bol of political cojones in Europe. 
Guzzanti's TV show, RAIot: Weapons of 



Mass Distraction, which satirized the 
Italian government and Prime Minister 
Silvio Berlusconi personally, was cancelled 
by executives at the RAI 3 network after 
only one episode, a decision that the film 
suggests may have been engineered by the 
Berlusconi administration. 

In a country ranked 53rd in press free- 



The brothers have all taken oaths of 
silence and, aside from two brief scenes, 
no one speaks in this film. So while a dose 
of patience is required, the result is a 
uniquely meditative experience. 

Old Joy is also a remarkably spare film, 
rife with emotional subtext that resonates 
in its subtlety. The short feature glimpses 




The VPRO Tiger Award winners Han Jie, Kelly Reichardt, and Manuel Nieto Zas 
with festival director, Sandra den Harrier, third from right 



dom by the media watchdog group 
Reporters Without Borders, Viva 
Zapatero! has been described by some as 
"Italy's Fahrenheit 9/1 1," although less for 
its content than for its demonstration of 
how a documentary can break into the 
mass consciousness. The film received a 
15-minute standing ovation after its pre- 
miere at the Venice International Film 
Festival, and its subsequent theatrical 
release in Italy brought in 200,000 people 
in the first week. 

Viva Zapatero! was shot on DV with a 
Sony PD150 by a crew of just three, 
including Guzzanti, and played in the 
"Time and Tide" program at Rotterdam. 
Another film from that category, which is 
simultaneously smaller and infinitely larg- 
er, is Into Great Silence, a two hour and 
forty minute journey into the lives of 
monks at the Grande Chartreuse 
monastery in the French Alps. German 
filmmaker, Philip Groning, was given per- 
mission to film, by himself, in the 
monastery for six months and painstak- 
ingly documents the daily lives of its 
secluded occupants on glorious 35mm. 



two lifelong friends who reunite for a 
brief camping excursion to a hot spring in 
the Cascade Mountains, east of Portland. 
While professing an enduring kinship, 
the pair has grown apart over the years, 
and this dichotomy plays itself out in a 
deliberate, but poignant fashion. 

Jon Raymond, who penned the short 
story on which the film is based, calls it, 
"a kind of contemporary Cain and Abel 
story... in reverse. Two estranged broth- 
ers traveling back into a primeval garden 
and reuniting." 

New York writer/director Kelly 
Reichardt worked on Poison (1991), by 
Todd Haynes, who is among the execu- 
tive producers of Old Joy, this is her sec- 
ond feature as a director. Its leisurely pac- 
ing won't appeal to everyone, but the 
Rotterdam jury was evidently won over 
by the film's beautiful silences exploring 
the lost joys of youth. Old Joy was the first 
film from the U.S. in competition at 
Rotterdam in three years, and lo and 
behold, it brought home one of the three 
Tigers, becoming the first American film 
ever to win the Rotterdam jury prize. ~k 



April 2006 I The Independent 21 




dllU 



will,,. 



Linda Hawkins Costigan 

The World According to Sesame Street 



By Rebecca Carroll 




For most people in America, "Sesame 
Street" warrants no introduction. The 
long-running PBS program and land- 
mark, nonprofit children's educational organi- 
zation, Sesame Workshop (renamed from 
Children's Television Workshop in 2000), has 
been viewed in thousands of homes across the 
country since 1968 when it first began chang- 
ing the way we look at television with its 
smart, innovative, and provocative program- 
ming for kids. 



In The World According to Sesame Street, a 
Participant Productions film that premiered 
earlier this year at Sundance, filmmakers 
Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda 
Hawkins Costigan take a close, heartrending 
look at the challenges and complexities of pro- 
ducing the world's most-watched and beloved 
children's television show in countries such as 
Bangladesh, South Africa, and Kosovo. 



Rebecca Carroll: How did you come to 
choose 'Sesame Street' as the subject of this 
documentary? 

Linda Hawkins Costigan: We had heard 
about Kami, the HIV-positive puppet on 
'Takalani Sesame' — South Africa's version of 
'Sesame Street' — and we were so intrigued 
that 'Sesame Street' had found a way to put a 
face on HIV/ AIDS for two- to six-year-old 
kids. Upon further research, we found that 
not only was 'Sesame Street' dealing with 



22 The Independent I April 2006 




The World According to Sesame Street examines the show's impact around the world, like in Bangladesh (above and left). 



HIV/AIDS in South Africa, but with the idea 
of mutual respect by promoting a sense of 
peace in its Israeli/Palestinian/Jordanian pro- 
ductions, and with girls' education in Egypt. 
We just thought, 'Oh my God, this is 'Sesame 
Street,' and they are dealing with some of the 
biggest issues for an audience of little people.' 
Linda Goldstein Knowlton: Just to finish 
that thought, we both grew up with 'Sesame 
Street' and it made this massive impact on us. 
And here they were taking this very American 
show to different countries and making it cul- 
turally indigenous all around the world. What 
an amazing feat. How do they do that? Are 
they actually using Muppets as a catalyst for 
social change? 

RC: And what do you think it is about 
'Sesame Street' that makes it an American 
show, apart from the fact that it was found- 
ed and is produced here? 

LGK: First, 'Sesame Street' is a show that 
most people think of as an American show, 



but the Sesame Workshop is a not-for-profit 
organization that goes to different countries 
and says: 'Tell us what your children need.' 
Then they have meetings and seminars where 
they bring together child educators and child 
psychologists and children's artists and anima- 
tors and all of these different people who work 
the world ol children, to create education and 
entertainment for them. In that way, the peo- 
ple on the ground within a certain country, 
for instance Bangladesh, get to create their 
own curriculum and their own puppets and 
their own street, and so then 'Sesame Street' is 
no longer an American show — now it's a 
Bangladeshi show. 

RC: There's a voiceover at the start of the 
film that talks about how hate is taught 
and how it's not a matter of if children are 
learning from television, but what they're 
learning from television. Hate is a real part 
of our world — how did you handle this in 
the film? 



LHC: We were lucky enough to go to 
Kosovo to watch them create a 'Sesame Street' 
there. As we all know, Kosovo is very ethni- 
cally divided. The hatred is palpable. We 
talked to three-, four-, five-year-old Albanian 
and Serbian children who were already talking 
about not wanting to know the other, or who 
knew nothing about the other. These children 
live right next door to each other in some 
cases, and they don't know that the other 
exists. So what 'Sesame' is trying to do is to 
introduce one set of children to the other. 
They are saying: 'Look, the Albanian child 
brushes his teeth or does his homework. The 
Serbian child brushes his teeth or does his 
homework.' It's all about humanizing the 
other. 

RC: And it has to be that rudimentary, 
doesn't it? 

LHC: It really does because as soon as you 
are able to create a common denominator, 
which is what 'Sesame' has done in so many 



April 2006 I The Independent 23 




On "Sesame Street" South African children are taught that differences shouldn't divide. 



different ways around the world, you can't 
hate someone as readily. 

RC: As a black woman, the notion of 
teaching and witnessing palpable hatred 
hits home for me. How do you stop the 
teaching of hatred — it has to go beyond 
making films, right? 

LGK: In Kosovo, we interviewed several of 
the adults who came together to help create 
the show, and they each had incredibly dan- 
gerous and dire experiences of being chased, 
jumping off buildings, and horrible things 
happening to family members, and yet these 
people all came together and sat at the same 
table because they wanted to create something 
new for their children — they wanted to end 
the cycle. And yes, it's going to take more than 
making documentaries, but it's a start. And if 
you can start the ball rolling, if you can start 
to break the cycle, you are making progress. 

RC: I noticed in the film notes that there 
is an action campaign that goes along with 
the film. Can you make a film like this 
without an action or social change agenda? 

LGK: Sesame approaches each project they 
do with the sense that everything has equal 



weight: research, production, and outreach. 
So every show they do has an outreach com- 
ponent to help reinforce its message. It's not 
just a half-hour show that you see and then it 
goes away. Sesame books or games or video or 
radio shows are all going to help reinforce the 
ideas they're trying to convey with the hope 
that one or more catch fire and continue to 
grow and grow. 

RC: I love the sort of hope-springs-eter- 
nal concept behind 'Sesame Street,' which 
has really built its foundation on this abid- 
ing faith in kids and the human spirit. As 
filmmakers, did you feel a sense of obliga- 
tion to honor that? 

LHC: You're talking to maybe two of the 
most Pollyanna people, but I will tell you that 
we didn't set out to make an inspiring film. I 
will attest to that right now. We set out to 
examine and explore, and we were so inspired 
that we couldn't help making a film that we 
hoped would inspire others. 

RC: What was it like introducing the 
film to Participant Productions? 

LGK: It's been amazing. I mean, we walked 
in and the first person we met said, 'I love 



'Sesame Street!" We had already gone on two 
trips and cut together a trailer. We showed 
them that and our proposal, and, you know, 
they got it — they got that it fit with the part 
of their mission that promotes social action 
through film. They've been fantastic. They 
were surprised like a lot of people that the film 
has such a political face to it, but education is 
political, and the beginnings of 'Sesame 
Street' are political, born out of the civil rights 
movement. 

RC: What do you hope this film will do 
for its American audiences? 

LHC: As we were talking earlier, children 
are not born to hate. They are taught to hate. 
If we can realize this, and not to sound 
Pollyanna about it, we have a responsibility, 
especially people in our field, over how we 
talk to our children and what our children are 
exposed to. 

RC: My concern is that, as with race 
relations in this country, to undo the hate 
that has existed for prior generations is to 
create dangerous and sometimes as harmful 
internal struggles for current generations. 

LHC: But as Linda [GK] said, 'Sesame 
Street' was born in thel960s out of the Civil 
Rights Movement. It was the first television 
show to include a multiracial cast and in an 
urban setting. Their social agenda was multi- 
cultural diversity even though they didn't have 
that phrase back then, and the show was not 
accepted on some of the public television sta- 
tions for that reason. I was born in 1968, and 
I started watching 'Sesame Street' in 1969, 
and the diversity I see on the show today is the 
norm to me. I think that if you can get kids 
early enough, it becomes the norm. 

LGK: You know, there's this great Margaret 
Meade quote: 'Never believe that a small 
group of people can't change the world for in 
fact that's all who ever has.' I hope that's right. 
I think that's right. You know, we have to be 
hopeful, and yes, it's hard work, and yes, it's 
pushing the rock up the hill, and yes, it's 
pushing against multi-generational change, 
but if we don't try, nothing is ever going to 
change. 

LHC: Sesame is never going to do it all on 
its own, that's for sure. Watching a half-hour of 
'Sesame Street' every day is never going to 
change someone completely, but hopefully it 
can do something, it can initiate some thought. 



24 The Independent I April 2006 



RC: Well, obviously they're doing some- 
thing right by having sustained all these 
years. What do you think that right thing is? 

LHC: That from day one they have con- 
sidered themselves an experiment and that 
they are willing to adapt, mold, and be pliable 
to different situations, which is why they're so 
adaptable in so many different countries. If 
they feel that certain children are changing or 
see things a little bit differently in one coun- 
try than they do in another, they are willing to 
change their program while still honoring 
their mission, which is to help children reach 
their highest potential. 

LGK: And also, you know what? They're 
really entertaining. They're really, really funny 
and smart. It doesn't matter how great your 
curriculum is; if you're not entertaining, kids 
aren't going to watch. 

RC: Right. I wasn't at Sundance this 
year, but I understand that it was very well 
received. How do you feel about that 
response, and what do you think it says 
about independent film and the film com- 
munity and what can be done insofar as 
social change? 

LGK: We had a screening at midnight — I 
think everybody gets a midnight screening — 
but we had a screening at midnight, which 
was sold out, and there were 40 people on the 
wait list to get in. And after the film, at 2 
o'clock in the morning, there were 40 more 
people who stayed for the Q&A. So we were 
blown away. I mean, we always believed that 
this film could have a very wide audience 
because whether you watched it as a kid, you 
watched it with your kids, or with your grand- 
kids, everybody has some type of recognition 
and connection and curiosity about 'Sesame 
Street.' And so we think the joyful response at 
Sundance shows that the film can do a couple 
of things: It can show the power of film to 
make an impact, and it can open people's eyes 
to the fact that the world is getting smaller, 
that we're all a part of it, and that kids around 
the world are really the same. *k 

For more information about The World 
According to Sesame Street, please see 
www.participantproductions.com. 





April 2006 I The Independent 25 




The best docs do more than educate 

they inspire real change 




BY ELIZABETH ANGELL 

Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me (2004) was an unqual- 
ified hit. The documentary, which followed Spurlock 
as he ate nothing but McDonalds for 30 days and 
interviewed a string of experts on the rapidly worsen- 
ing American obesity epidemic, was nominated for an Oscar. It won at 
Sundance and at countless other festivals. It earned glowin<* reviews 
and a wide theatrical release — still a rarity for documentaries. It 
became the sixth highest grossing documentary in history, and it even 
made Spurlock some money — almost miraculous for a documentarian. 

But it was at an early community screening in Dallas that Spurlock 
realized his film might be more than a personal success. The movie was 
shown in a theater alongside Troy and Van Helsing, not a typical venue 
for nonfiction fare, and the audience for Super Size Me was filled with 
adolescents and teenagers. "These kids thought it was hilarious. They 
were laughing and having a really good time," says Spurlock. "That's 
when I realized the power of the film." 

Spurlock set out to make a film about a looming social crisis obe- 



sity — and chose an idiosyncratic personal odyssey as his form. He 
hoped his project would be a piece of informative entertainment, one 
that would make audiences laugh while it taught them something. He 
never imagined it would be a catalyst for verifiable change. 

After seeing Super Size Me, kids began to boycott unhealthy school 
lunch programs. Spurlock rushed an educational version of Super Size 
Me into production — minus a few four-letter words and one scene in 
which his girlfriend, Alex, discusses the deleterious effects his new diet 
had on their sex life — and sent the film out to anyone who expressed 
interest. School boards requested the film for screenings, and state 
politicians showed it to their colleagues in legislatures across the coun- 
try. School soft drink service and junk-food vending machines were 
banned in some districts. People stopped Spurlock on the street to tell 
him that his film changed the way their family ate, that they moved 
more now, that they'd lost weight and fended off impending diabetes 
or heart failure. 

After years of talking up the power of moving images to change peo- 
ple's minds, Spurlock found himself at the helm of a film that had actu- 



26 The Independent I April 2006 







I 





Santino says goodbye in The Lost Boys of Sudan (above); Super 
Size /He's Spurlock weighs in 




ally spurred people to acrion. He could now point to his own movie as 
proof that, "film and TV truly are the key to unlocking many of soci- 
ety's problems." 

Like Spurlock, many documentary filmmakers are driven by social 
crises. They gravitate to stories that they hope will get to the heart of a 
political problem or shed light on a community in trouble. But how 
many of them make any kind of difference? And how can that social 
effect be measured? And beyond a good story well told, what ingredi- 
ents ensure that a film makes an impact on the group or issue that it 
portrays? 

Lost Boys of Sudan is a very different kind of documentary than 
Super Size Me — in tone, ambition, and ultimately reach — but it is in 
many ways a model for social issue filmmakers. Megan Mylan and Jon 
Shenk's film tells the story of two young Sudanese refugees relocated to 
Texas by the U.S. State Department. The film begins in northern 
Kenya, where the boys lived in refugee camps after having fled perse- 
cution in Sudan. Lost Boys charts their move to the U.S., their trials 
finding work, their difficulty navigating a cultural landscape complete- 



ly different from their own, and ultimately the almost insurmountable 
challenges they faced in getting the college education they wanted so 
badly. 

The film is shot in a cinema verite style; in contrast to Spurlock, 
Shenk and Mylan never include themselves in the drama. But their 
desire to have an impact on the fate of Sudanese refugees in the U.S. 
was present from the film's conception. "The hardest part [of filming] 
was not being able to be the friends that these boys really needed," says 
Mylan. "So the moral deal that Jon and I made was that if we honest- 
ly told this story, it would be an eye-opener to Americans about how 
tough it is to come to this country and make your way. That would be 
how we would help." 

Lost Boys was distributed theatrically for 8 months in 50 cities and 
then premiered on PBS as part of the "P.O.V." documentary series. 
Mylan and Shenk partnered with P.O.V. to create a stand-alone web- 
site, an educational version of the film, and extensive teaching guides. 
Their plan was to make information and resources available to people 
who were touched by any aspect of the movie, from its two charismat- 



Apnl 2006 I The Independent 27 




Paula and Shelby Knox, of The Education of Shelby Knox 

ic protagonists, Peter and Santino, to the entire continent of Africa. 

"We knew we needed to help the main characters of our film, the 
larger group of lost boys, refugees across the country, and the people of 
Sudan. It was daunting, but we couldn't not do any of that," says Mylan. 
"There are people who see Peter and Santino and don't sec beyond that. 
And then there are those people who see the connection to Albanian 
refugees in their community or to the Darfur crisis, and that's great." 

Mylan and Shenk have organized 1,000 community events and 
there have been many more educational and community screenings of 
their film, many of which served as fundraisers for refugee groups like 
Care and Doctors Without Borders. 

The filmmakers helped local organizations find lost boys or other 
immigrants who would be part of panel discussions after screenings. A 
private funder interested in refugee issues provided outreach funding, 
allowing them to fly to screenings, like the one organized by the 
Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Richmond, VA, which resettled 
47 lost boys in the area. At the screening, a family offered to take in a 
Sudanese woman and her toddler; others signed up to volunteer and 
mentor new immigrants. Other local panelists found support from 
audience members, and sponsors said their presence was enormously 
valuable. "That pairing [of the film and the panel discussion] was so 
crucial for our audience," says Darcie Olson, who used Lost Boys of 
Sudan to recruit volunteers for the Amnesty International effort sur- 
rounding the Darfur crisis. "Meeting the boys really helped them to see 
the scope of the crisis. And that's crucial in making sure people stay 
involved." 

Seeing the film in a theater or meeting a lost boy at a Q&A weren't 
strictly necessary for eliciting a reaction; the film reached many thou- 
sands who saw it on PBS, which, despite a fuddy duddy (or hopelessly 
elitist, depending on who you ask) image, still reaches almost every 
American household with a television. John Kah, a 24-year-old air force 



veteran who usually worked nights, found himself home one evening 
and unable to sleep. He caught Lost Boys on TV and was deeply moved. 

"No one was helping these young men adjust and succeed in their 
new country, and I was troubled," says Kah. "It seems to me that the 
time wasted by Americans watching television or sleeping in on 
Saturday mornings could be donated to these more than deserving 
young men." 

He emailed Mylan and Shenk, who put him in touch with a refugee 
agency near his home in Spokane, WA. He and his wife have volun- 
teered with that group ever since. The Kahs began with a family of 
Cuban refugees, helping them to enroll their children in school and to 
pass driving tests. Three lost boys from refugee camps in Kenya soon 
moved into their spare bedroom. Kah remembered from the film how 
important new winter clothes could be, so he purchased shoes and jack- 
ets for the young men after they arrived. He eventually taught each to 
drive, determined to help them achieve independence in their new lives. 

Kah now believes in the power of documentary film. "They create 
awareness of social issues and illustrate ways in which normal individ- 
uals can remedy these issues," he says. A film, he notes, is a ready-made 
source of information, organized around a compelling narrative. "If a 
film hadn't been made, someone who wished to inform others or them- 
selves [about an issue] would have to do so much work and research." 

Mylan finds this kind of response particularly gratifying. Though 
she's grateful for all the money that's been raised and the volunteers 
recruited, she hopes that, above all, Lost Boys of Sudan will help to open 
up the debate about immigration in America. "The great intangible is 
the way you make people think in a different way," she says. 

(In addition to opened minds, Mylan and Shenk happily witnessed 
tangible rewards for the boys to whom they had grown so close. As a 
result of the film, Peter was offered a full scholarship at Green Mountain 
College in Vermont, and Santino found a sponsor who paid his tuition 
at DeAnza Community College in San Jose, CA. Altogether, more than 
$500,000 was raised at screenings for an education fund for lost boys.) 

For filmmakers like Mylan and Shenk who have a limited budget 
and expansive ambitions for the scope of their film, the support of an 
organization like P.O.V. is crucial. With almost 20 years of experience 
producing and broadcasting small independent documentaries, P.O.V. 
not only ensures that a film is seen on television, but that it will 
become a resource for community organizers and activists. They con- 
tinue to work with each of the 15 to 20 films they sponsor each year 
for four to five years after. "We platform all of our films for ongoing 
use," says Cara Mertes, P.O.V's executive director. 

They also provide a crucial service in managing expectations. "Of 
course we all want congress to pass a law the next day on whatever issue 
we feel is pressing," says Mertes, "but we also know we can see change 
working incrementally. We have individuals who give $100 after seeing 
a film or offer to buy a family's groceries. That can be as important as 
sparking a congressional discussion about immigration policy." 

P.O.V. has also learned that filmmakers often make poor advocates; 
they need to partner with community groups and activists in order to 
make sure their film finds its audience. Robert West, whose North 
Carolina-based organization, Working Films, advises filmmakers on 
social issue marketing and outreach programs, agrees. 

"Find the sawiest and smartest allies on the issue covered by your 
film and invite them into your distribution plans early on," he says. 



28 The Independent I April 2006 




IHvM 

Once in the U.S., Peter found a job working at Wal-Mart 

"Invite them to see how the film might serve the needs of their effort 
and their interest group. Partnerships between filmmakers and allies 
will get constituents to turn out for screenings, and then harness that 
audience for local actions tied to larger national efforts. The actions 
offered for audiences after a screening should not be ephemeral or 
rhetorical, but sharply strategic." 

Community organizers, says West, are typically much better pre- 
pared than filmmakers to give nitty gritty advice. "[Documentary 
filmmakers] don't usually have that perfect way to tap people in to the 
energy when the credits roll and the lights go up," he says. 

"It's not enough to move people," agrees Mylan. "You have to say, 
'Here's what you can do."' 

Filmmakers are also occasionally guilty of seeing their film as the main 
attraction and using community organizations and activists as extensions 
of their marketing plan. That would be a serious mistake if their aim is 
to truly do some good, cautions West. "Filmmakers must be prepared 
not just to say 'How can grassroots activism help my film?' but 'How can 
my movie help the movement?'" he says. 

Many filmmakers discover that outreach begins long before the first 
screenings. "It begins when you start your research," says filmmaker 
Marion Lipschutz, a veteran of many documentaries whose most recent 
film, The Education of Shelby Knox, about a teenage sex-education activist 
in Lubbock, TX, was a P.O.V. production. "We made copious notes, and 
we stayed in the loop with all those people as we were filming. We figured 
out which groups were good, which ones were full of shit, which journal- 
ists would be interested." 

Many filmmakers report that the more targeted the outreach, the more 
useful their film can be. Twist of Faith, a film about the abuse suffered by 
an Ohio man at the hands of a Catholic priest, which aired on HBO in 
2005, was used to influence several state legislatures deliberating whether 
to extend the statute of limitations on childhood abuse cases. Twist of 
Faith's director Kirby Dick worked with victims' grotips to make copies of 
his film available to legislators and lobbyists. "The film really helped these 
influential people understand why these experiences stayed with victims for 
their whole life, why they couldn't come forward until much later to con- 
front their abusers," he says. 

Technology is perhaps the most potent ally any filmmaker has in his or 
her efforts to make a difference. Without an internet site, a casual viewers 
piqued interest would go squandered. Now, it is captured and directed to 



local volunteer organizations or to a fundraising effort. "We used to say 
that the film never ends, but now it's true," says Mertes. "Everything is 
faster, better, and more effective. That's terribly exciting for our goals. We 
can reach out nationally and internationally, and we can tap into whole 
new lists of potential supporters." 

It has also, of course, provided new viewers for documentaries. Netflix 
carries all of P.O.V. 's films, for example, and more than 75,000 have been 
rented. And many of those viewers follow their sympathy to the websites 
of Lost Boys of Sudan or The Education of Shelby Knox. 

Digital technology is also being used in new ways that have more in 
common with scrappy political agitation than old-school grassroots organ- 
izing. West reports that he has been working with two young filmmakers, 
Garrett Scott and Ian Olds, who recently completed a film about a platoon 
of soldiers in Iraq called Occupation: Dreamland. (Scott died suddenly and 
tragically in March.) One sequence, a particularly powerful episode involv- 
ing a young man's disgust at being urged to re-enlist rather than go home, 
where he'll "probably end up living with Momma going to a small com- 
munity college somewhere," will be uploadable as a six-minute segment on 
iTunes. West hopes that this excerpt might be useful to organizations spear- 
heading anti-recruitment efforts in high schools and on college campuses 
where large numbers of students have iPods. For students who might not 
agree to sit through a 90-minute film, this mini-movie could be particu- 
larly compelling. "That's an important six-minute tool that activists would- 
n't have had in their hands a few years ago," says West. 

Social issue documentaries have been so influential in recent years that 
they are beginning to attract the attention of for-profit producers, as well 
as not-for-profit outlets like P.O.V. "Documentaries can make a difference 
and make money," says Diane Weyermann, executive vice president of 
documentary production at Participant Productions. Participant, whose 
website proclaims it is "changing the world one story at a time," is the most 
notable example of Hollywood's interest in do-gooder efforts. Committed 
to producing films with a strong message, in 2005 Participant released 
Murderball Syriana, North Country, and Good Night, and Good Luck. In 
addition to the usual mainstream promotion campaigns, they organized 
outreach projects for each of their films and their website lists resources 
where people can go to find out more information, donate money, or vol- 
unteer their services. 

"What is crucial about our work is that every film's release, whether fic- 
tion or nonfiction, will be accompanied by a social action campaign, 
because the primary goal is to have a positive effect on social change," says 
Weyermann. 

Some not-for-profit veterans are skeptical of whether a conventional 
production company can pledge to a program of social advocacy. PO.V.'s 
Mertes wonders whether Participant will remain committed to making its 
films available to organizers cheaply and whether they will continue to sup- 
port outreach efforts after a few months or even years, when it's time to 
focus on the next film. "I do think it makes a difference when the bottom 
line is selling tickets," says Mertes. 

Regardless of whether a documentary is better served by a for-profit or 
not-for-profit company, almost everyone agrees that the best thing a film 
can do for a cause is to tell a great story. "There are a lot of films that get 
made about very worthy issues, but they go nowhere because it wasn't suc- 
cessful on all the levels a film has to work on," says Rose Rosenblatt, co- 
director of The Education of Shelby Knox. "They can't be pedantic or 
didactic. They must be entertaining and large." "k 



April 2006 I The Independent 29 




History in the 
Making 

BY ETHAN ALTER 

It sounds more like a chemistry experiment than the premise for 
a television series: Take ten independent documentary filmmak- 
ers celebrated for their bold and uncompromising visions and 
partner them with the History Channel, a cable network best 
known for its comfort-food approach to historical programming. The 
result could either push the boundaries of the television documentary 
form or blow up in everyone's faces. No one was more aware of the lat- 
ter possibility than Joe Berlinger, the award-winning documentarian 
(Brother's Keeper, 1992; Paradise Lost, 1996) hired to help develop "10 
Days that Unexpectedly Changed America' (premiering April 9 at 9 
pm/ET), the History Channel's highest-profile 2006 series. "It was a 
learning and growing experience for everyone," Berlinger remarks 
diplomatically. "On the one hand, we recruited filmmakers who are 
used to a lot of creative freedom. On the other hand, this is a network 
that knows its audience and is trying to strike a balance between allow- 
ing for creativity and producing a television series. Were there 
inevitable bumps along the road? Yes, but overall "10 Days" represents 
a tremendous collaboration between people accustomed to their inde- 
pendence and a network used to dictating the format of its shows." 

The brainchild of History Channel executive Susan Werbe, "10 
Days" is an anthology often one-hour documentaries, each focusing on 
a day in American history that helped shape the country's future. But 
don't expect to see obvious dates like July 4, 1776 (the Declaration of 
Independence), December 7, 1941 (the bombing of Pearl Harbor), or 
September 1 1, 2001 (the World Trade Center attacks). For one thing, 
those events have already served as the subjects for a number of docu- 
mentaries, several of which were produced by the History Channel 
itself. Besides, as Werbe explains, part of the mission statement for this 
series was to find new subjects that would excite viewers as well as the 
filmmakers themselves. "From the beginning, we stressed that we didn't 
want for this to be the ten most important days in American history," 
she says. "The role of the History Channel and this kind of project is 
not to do a top ten list. That kind of trivializes history. 

The History Channel taps the 
indie world for new recruits 



After pitching the idea in late 2003, Werbe drew up a broad list of 
days based on the ideas of her staff as well as suggestions offered by 
History Channel fans via the network's website. The following sum- 
mer, she approached Berlinger to be a co-executive producer on the 
series and to direct one of the episodes. "I knew that he had done a 
series for Court TV, so he had previous experience working with a 
cable network. Also, he has a terrific reputation in the independent 
film community." For his part, the acclaimed director saw the project 
as a way to challenge both himself as a filmmaker and the History 
Channel status quo. "One of the first things I said to Susan was that I 
didn't want every show to feel like the other," he remembers. "I want- 
ed each filmmaker to create a little gem that could stand on its own, 
but also function as part of a series." 

With Berlinger on board, Werbe continued to winnow down the 
list of days, even inviting a group of prominent historians to New York 
to lend a hand. In addition to offering suggestions, the historians cau- 
tioned against venturing into the recent past, hence the absence of 
9/11. "The official reason is that the historians felt we don't have 
enough perspective on it yet," says Berlinger. "But for me it also felt 
like a cliche. It's obviously very important, but it's kind of a lost oppor- 
tunity because it is so well covered." 

The series begins in the 17th century and ends with the civil rights 
movement in 1964. Along the way, it touches on a number of crucial 
events from the well-known (the Battle of Antietam, the Scopes Trial) 
to the more obscure (Shay's Rebellion, the Homestead Strike) to the 



30 The Independent I April 2006 






-r* k .. 




V 



A . 




. /££'■'■ 




The filmmakers (clockwise from top left): R.J Cutler ( 'Shay's Rebellion. America s First Civil War"); Marco Williams 
Joe Berlinger ("Murder at the Fair. The Assassination of President McKinley"); Kate Davis ("Scopes: The Battle P 



"Freedom Summer") 




April 2006 I The Independent 31 




Richard Strobel is McKinley; Nick Maroon, his assassin 

unexpected (Elvis' first appearance on Ed Sullivan). In each case, the 
day acts as a jumping-off point for the examination of larger cultural 
and political issues. "The day itself is a doorway into a particular peri- 
od in history," explains Werbe. "They are the trigger points that result- 
ed in change." 

Once the historians had had their say, the next step was to recruit 
nine other filmmakers willing to hop aboard the experiment. As it 
turned out, almost all of the documentarians whom the producers 
approached agreed to be part of the series with little hesitation. The 
final list reads like a Who's Who of independent documentary film- 
makers, featuring such names as Bruce Sinofsky (Metallica: Some Kind 
of Monster, 2004), Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein ( The Celluloid 
Closet, 1995), Rory Kennedy (American Hollow, 1999), and Barak 
Goodman (Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, 2000). In Werbe's view, a 
big part of the draw was the opportunity to produce a fully-funded 
film that would be heavily marketed and shown to a wide audience — 
circumstances that are difficult to come by in the independent world. 
Many of the filmmakers echo her sentiments. "You can't count on these 
kinds of opportunities," says Kate Davis, who directed the 2001 
Sundance favorite, Southern Comfort (2001). "I grew artistically and 
there was another place to show my stuff," adds Michael Epstein ( The 
Battle Over Citizen Kane, 1995). "From an independent filmmaking 
stand-point, that's nothing but good news. Hopefully you're making 
movies to be seen. And many, many more people will see these films 
on the History Channel than in a theatrical or even a DVD release." 

While the lure of a guaranteed budget and release were difficult to 
resist, the filmmakers needed to be reassured that they would have a 
certain degree of creative autonomy. This was where Berlinger's pres- 
ence proved helpful; the directors knew he would take their concerns 
seriously. "I would describe my role in the series as a safe harbor," he 
says. "There were times when the filmmakers came to me wanting to 
explore certain issues before they went to the network." And while 
Berlinger admits that he occasionally had to act as a "referee" between 
parties, overall he characterizes the collaboration as a positive one. It 
helped that several of the filmmakers already had experience making 
documentaries for cable television, which made them accustomed to 
some of the pre-requisites of the format, including a five-act structure 
that allows for commercial breaks and the use of narration and/or reen- 



actments. To ensure everyone was on the same page, Werbe gave a 
"History Channel 101" lecture before production began, covering 
some of the basic requirements. "I talked about how pacing should be 
a little quicker, that music should help drive the drama and to have a 
little mini-story arc for each act and a subtle tease going into the next 
act," she says. "The thing I wanted everyone to keep in mind was the 
particular challenges of premiering something on TV. It's not like the 
audience is buying a ticket and going into a dark theater. You really 
have to hold the viewer, because they have so many choices. But aside 
from that, the creative process was pretty much left up to their discre- 
tion." 

One place where the directors were forced to compromise was on 
the subject of their film. While the producers avoided assigning topics, 
the selection process was akin to a classroom project. The filmmakers 
were presented with the list of 30 days and then asked to pick their top 
three choices. While some directors, like Davis, got their first pick, oth- 
ers weren't so fortunate. "My first choice was February 27, 1968, the 
day Walter Cronkite did a prime time special about the Tet Offensive 
in Vietnam," says R.J. Cutler [A Perfect Candidate, 1996). Instead, at 
the producers' suggestion, he wound up telling the story of Shay's 
Rebellion. Likewise, Epstein initially hoped to direct a film about the 
civil rights movement, but agreed to cover the Civil War via Antietam. 
Perhaps the filmmaker tasked with the most difficult assignment was 
James Moll ( The Last Days, 1998), who signed onto the project hoping 
to tackle a "more contemporary" subject only to end up traveling back 
to 1 637 to depict the slaughter of the Pequot tribe by European set- 
tlers. "It was a bit of an unscientific process," Berlinger says about 
divvying up the days. "In some instances people came back to us with 
a first choice and it got matched, sometimes it was a third choice, and 
sometimes it wasn't one of their choices at all. In the end, we just made 
sure that everyone was happy with what their selection was." This 
included Berlinger himself, who thoughtfully waited for all the other 
filmmakers to pick their days before choosing from the leftovers. He 
ended up directing a film about the assassination of William McKinley, 
a subject that he admits he wasn't particularly interested in at first. "It 
was only when I got into it that I realized there were some great story- 
telling opportunities. I'm now glad that I ended up doing it because I 
learned a lot and stretched my artistic muscles at the same time." 

Like Berlinger, all of the directors involved found themselves flexing 
their creative muscles in order to produce movies that stayed true to 
their artistic visions while also conforming to the broad outlines of the 
History Channel's own brand of documentary filmmaking. Moll, for 
example, says that he generally doesn't use narration in his films but 
agreed to employ a narrator to "keep in style" with the network. 
(Though he still put his own stamp on the device; the narrator was one 
of the historians who appears in on-camera interview segments.) By far 
the most controversial aesthetic question was whether or not to include 
reenactments. While Werbe didn't require the filmmakers to shoot this 
sort of material, she did ask them to keep an open mind. "Our viewers 
are used to reenactments and, if you go back far enough, there is a 
point of no return. Obviously there's no substitute for real archival 
material. But if you are in that pre-photographic era of history or if 
there are only a few photos available, reenactments are a viable option." 
Despite Werbe's points in favor of reenactments, many of the film- 
makers remained skeptical. "I, by and large, hate recreations," Epstein 



32 The Independent I April 2006 



says simply. Cutler goes one step further: "I simply 
don't understand them. I don't know why all these peo- 
ple are putting on costumes and traipsing about pre- 
tending they're fighting in the Revolution. I guess audi- 
ences respond to them, but to me, as a storyteller, they 
seem silly." 

It goes without saying then that these were two of 
the four directors who opted against including reenact- 
ments. Instead, Epstein recreated the battle of Antietam 
by shooting a number of still photographs in the style 
of celebrated Civil War photographer Mathew Brady 
and then manipulated them in post-production to sug- 
gest movement. Cutler, meanwhile, turned Shay's 
Rebellion into a cartoon — literally — with the help of 
Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton. "I wanted 
to stimulate the viewer's imagination in a more impres- 
sionistic way," he explains. "That's why I decided to use 
animation. I actually think you're going to see more 
and more documentaries doing it — it's an interesting option." While 
Culter says that he didn't encounter any resistance when he pitched the 
idea to the network, Werbe admits that his proposal initially caught her 
off guard. "I was scared, no question about it," she says candidly. "And 
I had to do a little in-house sales job. But that was the point of this 
series: to have these filmmakers experiment and come up with some- 
thing we might not otherwise have done." 

For every Epstein or Cutler, there was a Berlinger or Moll, who 
decided to shoot reenactments despite their initial reservations. "In my 
case, reenactments made sense — there obviously weren't any cameras in 
1637," jokes Moll, adding that he actually came to enjoy the process 
by the end of the shoot. Berlinger experienced a similar change of 
heart. "I felt, if I was going to do something like this, I wanted to push 
recreations to the max. I really wanted to bring some cinematic tech- 
nique to it and push the envelope a little bit." The finished film fea- 
tures a minute-by-minute recreation of McKinley's assassination, 
which features such camera tricks as slow-motion, freeze frames, and 
elaborate dolly shots. "I had a lot of fun doing this show," he says now. 
"I used to have a very rigid idea of what constitutes documentary, and 
it was interesting to break those shackles a bit." Davis also made cre- 
ative use of reenactments in her documentary about the Scopes Trial. 
She and her co-director David Heilbroner traveled to Dayton, Ohio 
and filmed the town's annual recreation of the trial, complete with 
locals playing the roles of Clarence Darrow and William Jennings 
Bryan. "It was more of a verite approach," says Davis. "Here's a town 
that just can't get over this trial. They're really living it, and that's the 
documentary element of this reenactment. For us, it was metaphoric of 
the country; we're still arguing bitterly over these ideas." 

The debate over reenactments is part of a wider question about the 
role of television in historical filmmaking. At a time when the majori- 
ty of theatrical documentaries focus on contemporary issues, places like 
the History Channel or PBS become the only venue lor films about the 
past. But because the survival of a network like the History Channel 
depends on appealing to the widest possible audience, many of their 
productions rely on devices — such as reenactments — that arguably 
simplify history. "There is a category of TV documentaries that are 
made at a very basic level for a broad audience," says David Greenberg, 




Antietam was the bloodiest day of fighting in American history 



an assistant professor or journalism and media studies at Rutgers 
University. "They are designed to catch someone on the couch that 
evening or afternoon rather than having a more ambitious agenda that 
includes arguing about or providing different interpretations of histor- 
ical events." There's also the thorny issue of who gets to tell the story 
of the past. "In a book you can feature many viewpoints," Greenberg 
explains. "But in a documentary — particularly one made for televi- 
sion — you really only have time to feature a few talking heads. And 
sometimes a few people will get special prominence, and they may or 
may not be the most reliable sources, just the people who work well on 
TV." And, of course, the historical record can be greatly affected by 
who is behind the camera. All of the "10 Days" filmmakers are per- 
fectly aware that another director would have treated the same materi- 
al in an entirely different way. In fact, Marco Williams, who directed 
the civil rights-themed episode "Freedom Summer," expresses some 
regret that his subject wasn't tackled by a white filmmaker. "My feeling 
is that the civil rights movement was not a Black American experi- 
ence — it was an American experience. I think a white filmmaker would 
have seen a number of other things to highlight in the same way that I 
would have a very different approach to an episode about Elvis." 

Aesthetic debates aside, all of the filmmakers involved with "10 
Days" ultimately agree that the series was as educational for them as 
they hope it will be for viewers. "It was a very positive experiment with 
a very positive outcome," Berlinger says. "There were inevirable grow- 
ing pains as everyone learned to speak the same language, but at the 
end of the day the network did a great job giving the directors as much 
creative freedom as was practical." Werbe also stresses that the collabo- 
ration between the two camps is what makes the series noteworthy. 
"This says to independent filmmakers that the History Channel is a 
place where you can be comfortable." In fact, a number of the film- 
makers already have other television projects lined up (albeit on other 
channels) and would return if the network decided to do another 
installment of "10 Days." "I wouldn't have made Antietam' unless 
someone knocked on my door, but I'm glad I went through the expe- 
rience of making it," says Epstein. "It was a great opportunity, and I 
hope there are more." ■&' 



April 2006 I The Independent 33 



Hdl or High Water 

How the independent film community 
is coping with Katrina 



BY HANNAH ROSENZWEIG 






i 



34 The Independent I April 2006 




quAd^jhe production team of Julie Gustafson's 
fc w&smre, a docurneBfift* about teenage girls from three diverse- 
New Orleans neighborhoods. Fun 
t side foundations, Desire was one of th< 
S ate paidApportunities for local documentary mak< 
f of Ju^Areu, I met man) independent filmmakers working ii 
I city, arm my short stint on the project turned into a long-term 
tionsrJB with New Orleans. I visited many times over the 
eight y ars to see filmmaking friends and to hear about their ] roj- 
cts. W len Hurricane Katrina hit, I was shaken and concerned 
many Spiers around tbe country. Even further, I wondered hov 

77. , ' A yi|.iii n .; 1 v ,. „..l,) Tf? p P j tr^Y P since learned that many I Im- 
makejgs jfave had to relocate and may not be able to return 
already mi production have had to change course and figur 



whether and how to include Katrina. Most, it seems, are con lit- '? I 

tu-| 
rally to film and video to document -and preserve the ur jue f, 



ted to rebuilding and regenerating life in their city, turning 



culture and history of New Orleans. 



At left: The view down Tulane Avenue from 
the interstate overpass shows the true 
extent of the flooding. Right: The Faubourg 
Treme crew films Lenwood Sloan and Karen 
Kaia Livers of the Living History Project. 




Before the Storm 

Independent filmmakers in New Orleans have characterized the pre- 
Katrina film community as tiny, chronically under-funded, and some- 
what isolated. "There just isn't the tax base to give money to film, to 
artists of any kind," says Tim Watson, an editor, producer, and co- 
founder of Ariel Montage, a production company in uptown New 
Orleans. Although state agencies occasionally gave out small grants, 
most financing for independent film in New Orleans came from foun- 
dations and donors outside of Louisiana. Known for its music and 
food, the city simply lacked the civic support — independent movie 
theaters, private donors, film organizations — found in larger film hubs 
like New York or San Francisco. 

In spite of this, the film industry in New Orleans has grown steadi- 
ly since the early '90s. In the last decade, Louisiana attracted 
Hollywood producers with tax incentives for in-state shooting, creating 
employment opportunities and access to media professionals, and put- 
ting New Orleans on the national film radar. Many independent film- 
makers, enticed by the rich culture and low cost of living, moved to 
New Orleans. 

One of the most attractive qualities of the community has been its 
support system. Rebecca Snedeker was able to shoot By Invitation Only, 
about private Mardi Gras balls where young white women are present- 
ed as debutantes and queens in mock-royal courts, by bartering pro- 
duction services with local filmmakers. The film was later funded by 
ITVS and the National Endowment for the Arts and will screen as part 
of the "Class in America" series at this year's Full Frame Documentary 
Film Festival. One film's national recognition is often cause for anoth- 
er's celebration because as filmmaker Dawn Logsdon puts it, "If some- 
one gets funding, it elevates everyone." Snedeker adds, "We can all sink 
or swim. The more good things we all make, the more we might be able 
to be recognized as a community or to receive national funding." 



After Katrina 

It's been seven months now since Katrina, and everyone in New 
Orleans is still struggling to put their lives back together and simulta- 
neously attempt to make sense of the devastation in their city. Eighty 
percent of the city was flooded. More than 300,000 homes were dam- 
aged. Although some have been able to return to their homes, many are 
still unable and have chosen to relocate permanently. 

Neil Alexander, a photographer and filmmaker, started his film An 
Eye in the Storm just before Katrina hit. During the days that followed 
he often felt he was the only person left in the city, an experience that 
deepened his sense of responsibility to document the aftermath. One 
that led him to elect not to evacuate. His family home sits two blocks 
from the convention center where thousands of people lived in chaot- 
ic conditions without food, water, or sanitation for days after the 
storm. Alexander describes Eye in the Storm as the "voice and eyes for 
everybody that left; the voice for those that ended up staying" and 
hopes that it's helped alert people to the devastation. During shooting, 
Alexander filmed a man pushing a shopping cart full of baby sup- 
plies — diapers, formula, dehydration fluid — for miles to the conven- 
tion center, proof that supplies could get to the center — at a time when 
FEMA and Homeland Security said geography prevented access to the 
neighborhood — and that there were ordinary people risking their lives 
to transport them. Geraldo Rivera ran this clip a few days after the 
storm. It served as a counterpoint to the images of looting and may- 
hem consuming mainstream media. 

Other filmmakers have chosen to focus on the way the aftermath 
has affected local culture. Royce Osborn, a native New Orleanian who 
directed All on a Mardi Gras Day about black carnival traditions, was 
working as a hotel doorman (testament to the harsh economics of 
filmmaking) when the hurricane struck. After five days in the floods, 
he managed to evacuate first to Houston and then to Los Angeles 



April 2006 I The Independent 35 




Royce Osborn (right), Walking to New Orleans, shakes his bones on 
Claiborne Avenue during Mardi Gras, 2005. 




During Mardi Gras, Big Chief Victor Harris from Bury the Hatchet takes 
to the streets in elaborate costume. 



where he went on the "Tavis Smiley Show" to share his experience. 
Soon after, he received a call from National Black Programming 
Consortium (NBPC) asking if he would make a piece about Katrina. 
He returned to his Gentilly neighborhood, one of only two people on 
his block, and made Walking to New Orleans, a personal look at the cul- 
tural traditions and institutions that have been affected by "this thing," 
as he calls it. Osborn's film, funded in part by ITVS, became part of 
NBPC's multimedia "Katrina Project," which covers the aftermath 
through the lens of the people most affected by it. 

Those documentary filmmakers with films in production before 
Katrina hit had to get their projects (tapes, drives, equipment), their 
families, and themselves to safety when hurricane warnings began to 
circulate last August. Days or weeks later, several journeyed back to 
find or follow their subjects. For four years, Aaron Walker had been 
filming three Mardi Gras Indian chiefs for Bury the Hatchet. Before the 
storm he had been promised a grant by the Louisiana Division of the 
Arts, which would have allowed him to finish shooting. But after 
Katrina, most of the funds earmarked for individual media artists were 
frozen, leaving him with no money and the additional costs of finding 
the now-displaced chiefs and bringing them back to New Orleans to 
boot. He chose to spend his personal FEMA funds (emergency money 



given to each household after Katrina) on these trips. 

Logsdon and her production partner, writer Lolis Eric Elie, faced a 
similar change of course while making Faubourg Treme, a historical 
documentary about the Treme neighborhood told using the stories of 
present day residents. All of Logsdon's characters were affected by the 
storm and following them back to their flooded homes was "really hard 
and really sad," she says. "Suddenly I'm here with these people going 
through all of this, it was heartbreaking. We're taking the piece from an 
hour to an hour and a half to include what's happened in Treme since 
Katrina." 

Many New Orleans filmmakers have expressed what Alexander calls 
an emotional, rather than a cerebral, "pull" to their city. After many 
years in LA and one in New York, Osborn who'd moved back to New 
Orleans in 1997 says, "nothing ever felt right except for here." 
Filmmaker Jeremy Campbell agrees, explaining that he believes in 
Marie Leveaux's famous spell on New Orleans: "Anybody who truly 
loved it here, when they tried to leave, would be seduced back." After 
Katrina, Campbell felt "it was time for me to stand up and do some- 
thing for my city, and what I could offer was a film." Hexing the 
Hurricane, which documents several people including actor/comedian 
Harry Anderson and journalist Chris Rose, is about the resilient spirit 
of New Orleanians in the months after the storm, and is Campbell's 
attempt to "cover the heart" of the city. 

It's only been in the last few months that independent filmmakers 
have started screening Katrina footage. New Orleans-based cinematog- 
rapher William Sabourin's short Old Orleans, featuring vivid shots of 
people moving through the flood on foot or in boats, as well as the 
looting of neighborhood stores, recently screened at the Zeitgeist 
Multi-disciplinary Arts Center, one of only a few venues that screen 
independent films in New Orleans. Osborne, who also shared clips 
from Walking to New Orleans that evening, was heartened by the 
response: "I think people are really interested in seeing local filmmak- 
ers work on this because they've been inundated with seeing TV news 
coverage, you know, seeing the same kind of shots over and over. When 
they see this stuff, they recognize the city because they are seeing it 
through the eyes of somebody who lives here and knows the neighbor- 
hoods. 

The Future 

With resources and opportunities diminished, and neighborhoods 
empty of basic necessities, New Orleans' documentary film communi- 
ty is significantly smaller than it was just one year ago, and, unfortu- 
nately, the conditions in New Orleans are still such that the city will 
likely continue to lose important artists to other parts of the country. 
Logsdon and her crew have decided to edit Faubourg Treme'm Berkeley, 
CA. And they're still not sure if they will ever return, says Logsdon. 
Though, she explains, the distance has given her perspective allowing 
her to reflect on Katrina and to incorporate it into her project in a 
meaningful way. Francis James, Receiving the Gift, grew up in New 
Orleans and had been part of the film community for years. After the 
storm, his wife lost her job as a public school teacher, and he relocated 
his family to Louisville, KY. "There is the unmarried, unfamilied film- 
maker and then there is the person who has got a family and a house- 
hold that had to be part of the calculation," he says. 



36 The Independent I April 2006 




A chain reaction creates a worst case scenario as fire consumes several 19th century homes. 



After Katrina, Snedeker lived and edited By Invitation Only in 
Austin, Texas. In December, she decided to move back to New Orleans. 
"I wasn't sure I'd be able to work well [in New Orleans.] I knew I need- 
ed to finish the film, and that was number one. I kept hearing stories 
about it just being so hard, people weren't getting any kind of consis- 
tent electricity ... there were very basic questions like: Would the com- 
puter go off all the time?" But once she arrived, she knew she had made 
the right decision: "I was going over the Mississippi River Bridge, and 
I started feeling better. On that day I decided I'm staying home, and I 
was totally relieved to be here." 

Gustafson is also back rebuilding her home, though she lost her job 
as a video teacher and isn't sure if she'll be able to stay long term. "We 
don't know if the levees will hold. There have been some improvements 
this year, but what if this would happen again? That is hanging over 
everyone." 

Another devastating loss to the film community was the suicide of 
Stevenson J. Palfi, a well-known, Guggenheim Award-winning docu- 
mentarian, who took his own life three months after Katrina damaged 
most of his property and work. His film Piano Players Rarely Ever Play 
Together chronicled the lives of three New Orleans jazzmen. Palfi "was 
known as the person bringing this music to the rest of the world. He 
was able to capture (the musicians) and immortalize them. He had 



such an insight into this music. It's very tragic," says Walker, a friend 
and collaborator. 

Whether or not the federal government helps rebuild the city, more 
and more filmmakers are coming on board to keep New Orleans in the 
spotlight. This year's Full Frame festival will include a special program 
called "Southern Sidebar," documentaries from the Gulf. Spike Lee is 
producing a documentary about how race and politics collided after 
Katrina which will air on HBO near the one-year anniversary of the 
storm. "American Experience" has commissioned Stephen Ives, 
founder of Insignia Films in New York, to direct a two-hour film about 
the history of New Orleans. New York-based filmmakers Carl Deal and 
Amir Bar-Lev are co-directing Trouble the Waters about two New 
Orleanians who became unlikely heroes during the storm. A.M. Peters 
has just directed If Ever I Cease To Love, which explores post-Katrina 
New Orleans. Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai is planning a narra- 
tive feature about the human tragedy that unfolded in the wake of 
Katrina. And there is more to come: local filmmakers say they have 
recently spotted production crews from Japan, Germany and other 
countries shooting in their city. If they have anything to say about it, 
the filmmaking community as a whole will keep alive this hugely influ- 
ential portion of US culture and history by continuing to tell New 
Orleans' stories, it 



April 2006 I The Independent 37 



How 

Far 

Weve 

Come 

ITVS' 15th 

anniversary is 

the perfect 

opportunity to 

look back even 

as it looks ahead 





BY KYLE MINOR 

In 1988, 19-year-old Joanna Katz and her friend were abducted at 
gunpoint by five men who took turns raping, beating, and tortur- 
ing them. Joanna managed to escape and later testified in the trials 
that led to the sentencing of all five men to 30 to 35 years in prison. 

"But that was not the end of it," says PBS "Independent Lens" series 
producer Lois Vossen. "Every time one of the five men came up for 
parole, Katz had to drive five hours to the parole hearings to tell her 
story again. This would happen five times every year." 

Hers was the kind of story that required the singular, sustained 
attention that a television news program cannot offer. Katz turned to 
local television news producer-turned-documentarian Liz Oakley, 
allowing her to document seven years of frustration over having been 
forced to relive the trauma again and again in order to keep her 
assailants behind bars. 



38 The Independent I April 2006 






B B 
C — 
CQ U 



3 B 
= B 
L CO 



And Oakley then turned to the Independent Television Service (ITVS) for the 
funding that allowed her to complete Sentencing the Victim. The documentary 
aired nationally in 2004 on "Independent Lens", a platform for independents 
created by ITVS in partnership with PBS. 

Four months later, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford signed Bill S.935, 
designed to ease the burden of the parole process on crime victims, and similar 
legislation is currently being undertaken in several other states. 

"That was a real validation of our mission," says ITVS director of program- 
ming Claire Aguilar. "It was a case of a voice that was not being heard and all that 
was needed was a platform." 

After intense lobbying by independent media groups, including AIVF, ITVS, 
which celebrates it's 15th anniversary this year, was established by Congress in 
the Public Telecommunications Act of 1988 and it wrote its first checks to inde- 
pendent filmmakers in 1991. Its mandate was "to expand the diversity and inno- 
vativeness of programming available to public broadcasting." 

There was an early tension between ITVS and many in the independent film 
community who felt that ITVS took what the Village Voice once called "an adver- 
sarial and patronizing stance toward producers." The conflict centered around a 
rigid standard contract that gave ITVS ultimate control over so many aspects of 
production and distribution, one that Taken for a Ride director Jim Klein told the 
Voice, "would have made independents independent in name only." 

The tension was due in part to the three occasionally conflicting constituen- 
cies ITVS was forced to serve by congressional mandate: independent filmmak- 
ers, public television, and the viewing public. 

"A lot of independents knew that they were the force behind the founding of 
ITVS," Aguilar says, "so they felt a real sense of ownership. That's good, and 
that's how it should be." 

Under the leadership of the late Jim Yee, who became ITVS president in 1993, 
the relationship between ITVS and many in the independent film community 
was eased, and the organization began to forge stronger bonds with local public 
television stations as well as with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which 
provides the lion's share of ITVS's annual budget. 

A demonstrable turning point was the 1997 airing of David Sutherland's "The 
Farmer's Wife," a three-part, ITVS-funded series that ran on "Frontline" was 
watched by 18 million viewers. According to Sutherland, ITVS not only avoid- 
ed imposing any editorial constraints upon him, but actually helped to guaran- 
tee "my producer's independence and editorial control in my co-production 
arrangement with "Frontline," which was very important to me." 

Sutherland says that ITVS also funded $100,000 worth of outreach above the 
film's original budget to help alert religious organizations and groups like Farm Aid about the airing. And ITVS employees even helped person- 
ally in ways Sutherland never expected. "Lois Vossen had actually come from a family farm," he said, "and many times was able to calm Juanita 
[the farmer's wife of the title] down when the film got closer to broadcast, and she and her family became more nervous." 

The success of "The Farmer's Wife" and subsequent ITVS-funded "Frontline" and "P.O.V" programs led to a further strengthening of ties 
with PBS — "We went from being an orphan child to being a supplier of content," says Aguilar — and in 2002 ITVS landed its own regular dis- 
tribution outlet with "Independent Lens," a 29-week anthology series that covers "the whole spectrum of independent filmmaking — innovative 
documentaries, dramas, shorts, and animated works united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unwavering vision of their inde- 
pendent producers." 

ITVS president Sally Jo Fifer explains it like this: "In 2002, we approached PBS about 'Independent Lens' and said, 'Look, independent has 
been your brand for a long time, and we at public television are losing ground to the Sundance Channel, the Independent Film Channel. 
Audiences are clamoring for this thing. Let's take this series to the hard feed, and along with our friends at "P.O.V," we'll meet their needs here, 
on public television.' And, to their credit, they agreed to do it." 

The series has received rave reviews, both from viewers and from the filmmakers who have been associated with it. 

Producer Chris Christopher's July '64, which documents the Rochester race riots of 1964, was aired in February on "Independent Lens." 




'5 




April 2006 I The Independent 39 




In ITVS "Foto-Novela" series, fantastic elements from the Mexican and Latin American comic book tradition are combined with everyday reality 
and a hint of magical realism. 



Christopher says he and partner Carvin Eison were very pleased with 
the support they received from ITVS and the "Independent Lens" staff. 
"They are very clear that they want you to succeed, and their involve- 
ment extends tar beyond financial support. Their feedback throughout 
the editing process was insightful, respectful, and clear. Everyone made 
us feel as if July '64 was their number one priority. This is certainly a 
very special skill considering how many producers they work with." 

In 1997, the FCC assigned digital spectrum to broadcasters, send- 
ing a clear signal that the analog to digital revolution in television 
would happen sooner rather than later. And when a 2003 deadline was 
set for public television stations to begin Digital Television (DTV) 
broadcasting is was clear that public television was meant to lead rather 
than follow commercial broadcasters into the new digital age. 

The new service has created a massive need for new programming, 
and, as Vossen says, "Whenever there is a new platform, we try to carve 
out a place for it." 

The first ITVS/DTV initiative was an hour-long segment on Town 
Square, a nightly four-hour block of news and information program- 
ming. 

Fifer says the organization plans to be aggressive about the chal- 
lenges posed by new media outlets. "The idea is to be responsive to the 
growing, changing marketplace," she says, "and not to just manage 
those changes. We want to drive those changes." 

One of those changes is the challenge (and opportunity) raised by the 
growing global market for independent documentary films. Through its 
ITVS International arm and the International Media Development 
Fund, independent filmmakers from outside the United States are 
offered funding and help in connecting with American audiences. 



ITVS is getting into the international distribution business too, 
offering resources to under-funded and programming-hungry public 
television stations in countries that would not otherwise have access to 
independent American voices. 

The first new series in this initiative, True Stories: Life in the USA, 
hosted by Benicio del Toro, has already been made available in several 
international markets. The idea, according to Vossen, is to offer inter- 
national viewers a picture of the United States quite different from the 
one offered by reruns of commercial television series and Hollywood 
movies. 

But the investment in international distribution is a move that 
might be alarming to independent filmmakers who are already strug- 
gling to cobble together the funds to sustain their work, and who rely 
on the additional funds offered by the international distribution net- 
works that already deliver independently produced content to televi- 
sion markets in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and 
Australia. 

Vossen is quick to alleviate these concerns. "We're not trying to 
compete with the other international distributors our filmmakers 
might be working alongside," she says. "We're not trying to compete 
with the established distributors. We're getting involved in new mar- 
kets where these programs would not have otherwise been shown, 
places like Malawi, for example, where there is no money for this kind 
of programming." 

Another challenge posed to television broadcasters of all stripes is 
the rise of the internet. ITVS was an early adopter of internet-based 
interactivity strategies. As early as 1996 — the year before the debut of 
the DVD player — it launched www.itvs.org. By 1998, the website 
offered broadcast schedules, external links to producer-created content, 



40 The Independent I April 2006 



teachers' guides, producers' resources, and an electronic press room. 
When Our House, a documentary about the children of gay and lesbian 
parents, aired in 2000, the website hosted its first live chat, allowing 
viewers to participate in the conversation initiated by the documentary. 

This spring, "Independent Lens" is sponsoring its first-ever Online 
Shorts Festival, featuring short-form films of ten minutes or less in all 
genres. The winning film will receive a $2,500 prize and premiere on a 
PBS broadcast of "Independent Lens," and the 10 runners-up will be 
published in streaming video on the "Independent Lens" website. 

Though ITVS has yet to announce a strategy for addressing the new 
video streaming and podcasting capabilities offered by the iPod, it is 
not hard to imagine that the Online Shorts Festival will likely be a 
proving ground for the new technologies. 




The year-long celebration in response to ITVS's 15th anniversary 
has provided an opportunity for reflection upon what the organization 
has been and what it will become. 

According to "P.O.V.'V'American Documentary" executive director 
Cara Mertes, ITVS's greatest success can be found in its bolstering of 
independent voices. "'P.O.V.' and ITVS owe their existence to the hard 
work and vision of the independent producing community in partner- 
ship with key funders and other advocates," she says. "Over the years, 
the two organizations have supported and co-produced a number of 
outstanding 'P.O.V.' broadcasts. ITVS is one of the few places our pro- 
ducers can get critical resources to realize their projects, and we share a 
vision of supporting the most compelling independent stories about 
today's realities." 

That success is easy to quantify. ITVS has funded over 600 films 
since 1991. It has prefigured, survived, and coexisted alongside the 
documentary and reality TV boom. It has become a force at the 
Sundance Film Festival, with seven shows premiering in 2004 alone, 
and one of them, Brother to Brother, taking the Special Jury Prize. It has 
funded independent voices to the tune of $800 million and helped 
many of them to find an audience. Through its Diversity Development 
Fund, it helps minority producers develop promising projects that 
might otherwise be denied start-up funding. And through 
"Independent Lens" and partnerships with programs like "P.O.V" and 
"Frontline," it continues to offer independent voices a regular forum 
on national broadcast television. 

Challenges await. The political climate in Washington, D.C. is 
growing increasingly hostile to the funding of the arts in general, and 
public broadcasting specifically. The controversial nature of much of 
the programming funded by ITVS could make the organization a con- 
venient target. And with the proliferation of new portable digital 
devices, the future of television itself is in question. 

The future? Fifer is optimistic: "Our mission is more resolute than 
ever — to bring diverse voices to the public, and to use those stories to 
bring about change. And change happens person by person. What's 
really unique about the stories we fund is that they ignite groups of 
people to band together and solve problems in their communities. 

"That's what makes public television different from the commercial 



- 
... 

■ ■ 

\ ■ 






. ■ 




Bruce Nugent inspires a gay teenager through memories of the Harlem 
Renaissance in Brother to Brother. Above: From Alcatraz Is Not an Island 



venue. Independents stick with their story long enough to bring con- 
text and depth to the story, and then to enhance that story with action, 
to bring people together to think about how to solve a problem. That's 
what leads to solutions. That's why we're still doing this after all these 
years." "& 



April 2006 I The Independent 41 



CHEATSHEET: 

Getting Ifour Film on Public TV 

By Erica Berenstein 

Programmers from the major Corporation for Public Broadcasting-funded 
programs that accept submissions from independent filmmakers offer some 
tips. 

Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA), hrtp://asianameri 
canmedia.org. Funding: Open call for projects in production/post-production 
only. Awards average $20,000 to $50,000. Deadline: April 21, 2006. Open 
Door Completion Fund: Final finishing funds deadline: August 26, 2006. 
What they're looking for: "We want Asian American stories and the Asian 
American perspective," says Donald Young, the director of broadcast pro- 
gramming. CAAM doesn't discriminate as long as one of the major creative 
roles is filled by a petson of the tepresented race or ethnicity. Tips: CAAM is 
currently interested in content about 9/11, specifically, "looking at how the 
wotld has shifted fot South Asians and Muslim communities." 

Latino Public Broadcasting, www.lpbp.org. Funding: Open call. Deadline: 
TBA. What they're looking for: "Stories that can be told by Latinos or non- 
Latinos that teflect or give voice to Latino Ameticans," says Luis Ortiz, LPB s 
program manager. LPB is primarily looking for documentaries, but the open 
call is open to all genres. Tips: Ortiz says a common mistake applicants make 
is failing to read the guidelines and therefore not covering required sections of 
the proposal, or not being specific enough about details such as target audi- 
ence. You should tailor your application to each program for which you are 
applying. Sample proposals can be found at www.lpbp.org/sample_propos- 
als.htm. "Voces," a new series of biographies and social issue docs, will pre- 
miere on PBS in fall of 2006. Though the fitst season has already been 
planned, LPB is looking for submissions for the second season. (They will 
only accept finished films that fit within PBS content guidelines.) 

National Black Programming Consortium, www.nbpc.tv. Funding: Open 
call. Deadline: June 2, 2006. From $5,000 to $80,000 for all stages of produc- 
tion. Very competitive discretionary funding applications are accepted year- 
round. Completed projects must meet PBS guidelines as stated in the PBS Red 
Book — the packaging and delivery guidelines for PBS programs 
(www.pbs.org/producers/redbook/). What they're looking for: Stories about the 
African American and African diaspora experience. Tip: NBPC is interested in 
projects that fit into traditional broadcast regulations while embracing new 
media, such as podcasts or, in the neat future, cell phone video distribution. 

Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT), www.nativetele 
com.org. Funding: Full project budgets. What they're looking for: Quantity 
and quality of Native American participation in creative, technical, and advi- 
sory works of any genre as well as the finished program's power to illuminate 
the Native American experience. Tip: NAPT is looking for "a different spin 
on what we already know" in terms of historical themes, according to Assistant 
Ditector Shirley Sneve. 

Pacific Islanders in Communications, www.piccom.org; Funding: Open 
Call. Deadline: July 2006. Projects must raise 50 to 80 percent of their funds 
from other sources. PIC provides funds for R&D, production, and comple- 
tion. They acquire at least one finished film per year and have a Short Film 



Initiative this year. What they're looking for: All genres of film that addtess the 
history, culture, and contemporary challenges faced by Pacific Islanders. Hints: 
PIC has recendy focused more on social and politically based programming 
"because there is a definite need within the system," according to Gus Cobb- 
Adams, the progtam associate at PIC. Tip: Unlike ITVS and P.O.V, which 
would prefer you keep your application spare, PIC wants you to "submit every- 
thing you've got" because "the evidence [of] your ability to tell a story through 
film and video" is what will lead to a successful application. 

Independent Lens, www.pbs.org/independentlens. Funding: An acquisition 
fee for finished films or almost-finished films. Deadline: May 25, 2006. What 
they're looking for: All genres. Tips: They don't want to see rough cuts, but if 
the film is almost finished, then they will look at fine cuts for filmmakers who 
plan to use acquisition fees to finish the film. Lois Vossen, Independent Lens' 
series producer, says that although "the ills in the wotld are important" and 
the many films addressing them "wonderful," Independent Lens tries to 
acquire one or two films each year that "celebtate life... I don't mean saccha- 
rine." Vossen, who used to program shorts at Sundance, encoutages animation 
and shorts, and Independent Lens recently launched an online shorts festival. 
Also, it's a myth that, if you submit to P.O.V. you should not bother submit- 
ting to Independent Lens. It's a different process altogether and each series is 
looking for different things. 

Independent Television Service (ITVS), www.itvs.org 

Funding: Two open calls yearly and the LINCS, Local Independents 
Collaborating with Stations program, where local public TV stations give in- 
kind donations and services and ITVS matches the value with cash up to 
$100,000. Deadline: (LINCS) May 25, 2006. Tip: The website has a very 
helpful set of downloads including "Writing a Better ITVS Treatment." And 
from Claire Aguilar, the director of programming: "You really have to read the 
instructions really carefully; like if there is a limit on the page numbers or the 
font size, stick to it... just be really anal." She adds, "A lot of treatments 
sound... more academic or more descriptive" than they're looking for. "We 
want to know about style and access. ..It's on paper so you have to describe 
what it will be like as a film — what you're going to see." 

P.O.V., www.pbs.org/pov/. Funding Deadline: May 25, 2006. What they'te 
looking for: Contemporary point-of-view (from a character, set of characters, 
community, or filmmaker) nonfiction films. Completed works of any length. 
Filmmakers with projects in production should email intheworks@pov.org 
with a brief bio as well as a projected budget and schedule. Tips: "Research 
your broadcast venue," suggests Cara Mertes, executive director of P.O.V. 
"Know what they've done in the past, make sute your film is appropriate," and 
be aware of the trends in the year you are applying. 

* Note: Submissions accepted by the above entities are, upon completion of pro- 
duction, offered to PBS (and hopefully accepted) for programming in the nation- 
al or regional public television schedules. A licensing agreement is made between 
filmmaker and consortium whereby the copyright and theatrical rights remain 
with the filmmaker, and PBS maintains broadcast rights for four years. 

Please email ideas for future Cheat Sheets to notices@aivf.org. 



42 The Independent I April 2006 







Fair Market 

What exactly does the Artists' Bill mean for 
independent filmmakers? 



By Fernando Ramirez, Esq. 

If you're a filmmaker in need of a paint- 
ing or a sculpture for set decoration, or 
perhaps a photograph to give context 
to your documentary, then in all likeli- 
hood you need to get permission. 
Normally that would entail securing a 
license from the creator (i.e. painter or 
photographer). But it also could mean 
having to go through an owner who is 
not the original creator, such as with an 
estate of a deceased artist or someone 
who holds a copyright transfer (assign- 
ment) or an exclusive license to the work 
such as a commercial archive. 

With the rise in consolidation of cor- 
porate and commercial archives, choices 



for independ- 
ent filmmak- 
ers seem to be 
getting slim- 
mer. It's 
tougher for 
filmmakers 
to negotiate 
lower quotes 
when they 
have fewer 
companies to 
deal with. In some instances, depending 
on the artwork, photo, or image, public 
institutions can serve as an alternative. 
However, securing a license from say a 




museum or the Library of Congress will 
depend primarily on whether the institu- 
tion has an exclusive license or better still, 
full copyright ownership, along with the 
donated work. 

The concept of "copyright ownership" 
is different from the ownership of the 
object. Quoting from the Copyright Act, 
"[o]wnership of a copyright, or of any of 
the exclusive rights under a copyright, is 
distinct from ownership of any material 
object in which the work is embodied. 
Transfer of ownership of any material 
object, including the copy ... in which 
the work is first fixed, does not of itself 
convey any rights in the copyrighted 



April 2006 I The Independent 43 





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work embodied in the object; nor, in the 
absence of an agreement, does transfer of 
ownership of a copyright or of any exclu- 
sive rights under a copyright convey 
property rights in any material object." 
For the artist, donating work along with 
a copyright assignment or an exclusive 
license, just doesn't pay. 

But there's potential for this to shift in 
a way that could benefit the independent 
filmmaking community — if the twin 
bills currently before Congress are enact- 
ed into laws. The Artist-Museum 
Partnership Act (S.372) and the Artists' 
Contribution to American Heritage Act 
(referred to as Artists' Fair-Market Value 
Deduction Bills, H.R. 1120), would 
allow an artist who donates his or her 
work to a museum, public institution, or 
archival library, to make a tax deduction 
on their returns for the donation's fair 
market value — the amount that the piece 
would typically sell for on the open mar- 
ketplace. The current law gives this tax 
break to art collectors, not the artist. All 
the artist can do after donating the work 
is to deduct the cost of the materials they 
used to create the work, such as brushes, 
paint, canvas, paper, etc. 

For example, Carlos Collector donates 
a painting he purchased from Kelly 
Creator to the Library of Congress. 
Creator was a struggling artist at one time 
but is now a well-known artist. Around 
tax time, the Collector asks his account- 
ant to deduct the donation. His account- 
ant tells him he can deduct $3,000, the 
full purchase price of the painting. On 
the other hand, when Creator donates 
one of her paintings directly to the 
Library of Congress, her accountant will 
add up the cost of the paper ($8) and the 
cost of the paint ($2), and give her the 
unpleasant news that she can only deduct 
a grand total of $10. This tends to dis- 
courage artists from donating their work 
and even more so from assigning the 
copyright. Instead, it makes more sense 
for the artist to sell it to a private collec- 
tor or pass it on as an inheritance to his 
or her estate. 

In fact, attempting to access permis- 
sion by contacting the estate could be 
extremely costly or even a total dead 
end — as was the case with the films 
Basquiat (1996) and Surviving Picasso 



(1996). When the estate of the artists 
Jean-Michel Basquiat and Pablo Picasso 
refused to allow reproductions of their 
paintings in the films, the filmmakers 
were forced to create or commission work 
that resembled the artists' style. "Look-a- 
like" art in film is still risky because the 
more the imitation resembles the original, 
the closer you get to copyright infringe- 
ment. 

Still, films frequently use artwork to 
convey a mood or theme — often without 
permission. In Twelve Monkeys (1995), 
Bruce Willis' character is brought into a 
room and forced to sit in a chair so that 
the scene resembles a drawing entitled 
"Neomechanical Tower, (Upper) 
Chamber," by the illustrator Lebbeus 
Woods. "Roc," HBO's series about a mid- 
dle-class family living in Baltimore, aired 
an episode that featured a poster of a 
painting entitled "Church Picnic Story 
Quilt," by Faith Ringgold. Although Ms. 
Ringgold retained all rights in the copy- 
right of the work, the actual piece was 
owned by a museum, which held a license 
to reproduce the piece and sell posters. 
New Line's Seven (1995), starring Brad 
Pitt and Morgan Freeman, used several 
untitled photos by artist and photogra- 
pher Jorge Antonio Sandoval. Warner 
Brothers' The Devil's Advocate (1997) 
used a sculpture that resembled a sculp- 
ture by Frederick E. Hart. 

There was a time when artists could get 
a fair-market-value deduction. When the 
law was repealed in 1969, these donations 
dropped significantly. It's important to 
note that most painters and photogra- 
phers will sell or donate their work while 
retaining copyright ownership and some- 
times even specifically prohibiting any 
type of reproduction. However, under 
some circumstances the artist or the estate 
may donate artwork along with a copy- 
right assignment. In that instance, pas- 
sage of the Artists' Fair-Market Value 
Deduction Bills could help filmmakers 
with low- or micro-budget projects. It 
could allow museums, libraries, archives, 
and public repositories receiving dona- 
tions and assignments as part of their col- 
lections, to pass on the consideration in 
the form of a reasonable or affordable 
license fee. Ik 



44 The Independent I April 2006 



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ACTION/CUT SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, Aug 29 

Sept. 1, CA. Deadline: March 15; May 15 
(final). Cats: short, any style or genre. 
Awards: $35,000 in cash & services. 
Preview on DVD or VHS. Entry Fee: $40- 
$85. Contact: Action/Cut Filmmaking 
Seminars; filmmaking@actioncut.com; 
www.actioncut.com. 

CALIFORNIA STUDENT MEDIA & MULTIMEDIA 
FESTIVAL, June 3, CA. Deadline: April 15 
(dates tentative, see website for updates). 
The California Student Media & Multimedia 
Festival, a competitive event held simulta- 
neously in Northern & Southern California, 
showcases video & multimedia works pro- 
duced by students by K-12 students; works 
conceived & produced by home-schooled 
students also accepted. Submitted works 
must have been produced in conjunction w/ 
a California school or program. Awards given 
in all curricular areas, incl. English & history; 
yearbook-class works also accepted. 
Exhibition formats not specified. Online 
application only. Cats: children, youth media, 
student, feature, doc, short, animation, any 
style or genre, yearbook. Awards: Total of 
$1,000 in cash awarded to three education- 
al institutions. Preview on VHS video or mini- 
DV Entry Fee: no entry fee. Contact: Hall 
Davidson, Festival Coordinator; (714) 895- 
5623; hdavidson@koce.org; www.mediafes 
tival.org. 

CINEVEGAS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, June 9-17, 



NV. Deadline: April 21 . Held in Las Vegas at 
the Palms Casino Resort. The fest "will 
combine the excitement of world premiere 
films & celebrity tributes w/ the allure of 
Vegas nightlife. CineVegas also highlights up 
& coming filmmakers, as well as masters of 
the craft." Cats: feature, doc, short, student. 
Awards: $10,000 - Grand Jury Award for 
Feature $1 ,000 - Grand Jury Award for Best 
Short. Formats: 35mm. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: all films under 50 mm. $40 all 
films over 50 mm.. Contact: Festival; 
(702) 992-7979; fax: 898-5191; info cmeve- 
gas@cinevegas.com; www.cineve gas.com. 

DANCING FOR THE CAMERA: INT'L FESTIVAL OF 
FILM & VIDEO DANCE, June 8-July 23, NC. 
Deadline: March 14 (early) April 14 (final). 
Fest solicits dance-related work for juried 
public screenings at the American Dance 
Festival in Durham, NC. Founded: 1996. 
Cats: doc, short, experimental, student. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $25. 
Contact: American Dance Festival; (212) 
586-1925; fax: 397-1196; adfny@amencan 
dancefestival.org; www.americandancefes 
tival.org. 

EPFC YOUTH FILM FESTIVAL, May 20 21, CA 

Deadline: April 1. Fest features works by 
filmmakers 25 years & younger. Cats: short, 
any style or genre, youth media, animation. 
Formats: DV, 16mm, Mmi-DV, 1/2", DVD, 
Super 8. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Echo Park Film Center/ Lisa 



Marr; (213)484-8846; echoparkfilmcen 
ter@hotmail.com; www.echoparkfilmcen 
ter.org. 

FILM LIFE'S AMERICAN BLACK FILM FESTIVAL, 

July 13-17, FL. Deadline: April 8. Festival is 5 
days of independent films, panels, work- 
shops, Hollywood premieres, live entertain- 
ment & the ABFF Awards Dinner. 
Filmmakers, actors, industry executives, 
journalists & the film-loving public form a 
creatively charged atmosphere on South 
Beach that leads to serious business. Fest 
dubs itself as "the premiere int'l black film 
market & retreat." Founded: 1997. Cats: 
Feature, Short, doc. Formats: All formats. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: $30. Contact: 
Festival; (212) 966-2411; fax: 966-2219; 
abff@thefilmlife.com; www.abff.com. 

HOT SPRINGS DOC FILM FESTIVAL, Oct 20 29, 

AR. Deadline: April 7; May 19 (final). Annual 
fest accepting nonfiction film submissions 
for one of the country's premier nonfiction 
film celebrations. Noncompetitive fest hon- 
ors films & filmmakers each yr. in beautiful 
Hot Springs Nat'l Park, Arkansas. More than 
85 films are screened, incl. the current year's 
Academy Award nominees in nonfiction 
cats. Special guest scholars, filmmakers & 
celebrities participate in forums & lectures. 
Founded: 1992. Cats: doc, short, feature. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 1/2", DVD, Beta. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $25- 
$55. Contact: Darla Dixon, HSDFI; (501) 321- 
4747; fax: (501) 321-0211; ddixon@sdfi.org; 
www.hsdfi.org. 

IFP MARKET, Sept. 17-21, NY. Deadline: May 
1: Rolling deadlines begin. Annual event is 
the longest-running U.S. market devoted to 
new, emerging film talent. The market pres- 
ents new film & TV works in development 
directly to the industry. Hundreds of finan- 
ciers, distributors, buyers, development 
execs, fest programmers, & agents from the 
U.S. & abroad attend the IFP Market. Market 
filmmakers receive access to these industry 
executives via targeted networking meet- 
ings, pitch sessions, screenings, & more. 
Cats: feature, doc, work-in-progress, short, 
script. Awards: More than $150,000 in cash 
& prizes awarded to emerging artists, incl. 



April 2006 I The Independent 45 




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A TRUL Y INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL w 

Shorts / Feature Length / Documentary 
Music Video / Experimental / Animation 

Myrtle Beach International Film Festival PD Box 6879 Myrtle Beach. SC. 29572 
MfMfMf.myrtlebeachfilimfestival.com 



[Entrance Fee $25 Deadline April 15th. 843-497-0220 m-f 10am-6pm] 




NEW DAY FILMS is the premiere distribution 
company for social issue media owned and 
managed by filmmakers. We have distributed 
documentary film and video for over 30 years 
to non -theatrical markets. With a strong com- 
mitment to diversity within our membership 
and the content of the media we represent, 
we welcome your interest! 

www.newday.com • join@newday.com 



Or call Alice Elliott: 21 2.924.71 51 



Seeking energetic 
independent makers 
of social issue 
umentaries f 
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two $10,000 Gordon Parks Awards for 
Emerging African-American filmmakers. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta, DigiBeta, . 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $40-$50 
application fee; Registration fees (paid on 
acceptance only): $200 - $450. Contact: 
Pooja Kohli; (212) 465-8200; fax: 465-8525; 
marketreg@ifp.org; www.ifp.org/market28. 

KANSAS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 15 21, 
KS. Deadline: March 31; April 30; May 30 
(final). The fest is a celebration of independ- 
ent cinema & features a Think! series of 
socially conscious documentaries, experi- 
mental works, foreign films, & American 
indies. All films screen in beautifully 
restored theatres operated by the Fine Arts 
Theatre Group in the Greater Kansas City 
area. The Lucid Underground Short Film 
competition curated w/ a 'punk tenacity' also 
screens during KIFF. Cats: doc, feature, 
short, experimental. Awards: Audience 
awards; $250 cash prizes in each category. 
Formats: 35mm, DV Cam. Preview on VHS 
or DVD. Entry Fee: $30; $40 (final). Contact: 
Dotty Hamilton; (816) 501-3646; 
info@kansasfilm.com; www.kansasfilm.com. 

MAINE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, July 14 23, ME 

Deadline: April 30. A leading New England 
regional film fest w/ an exceptional empha- 
sis on int'l productions. Festival seeks fea- 
tures & shorts "shot in Maine or w/ a signif- 
icant Maine focus." Recent fest guests & 
winners of MIFF's Mid-Life Achievement 
Award incl. Sissy Spacek, & Terrence Malick. 
Founded: 1998. Cats: Feature, Short, doc. 
Awards: Audience Award (Best Feature). 
Formats: 35mm, 3/4", Beta SP, 16mm, S- 
VHS, 1/2", Beta, DigiBeta, DVD. Preview on 
VHS. Entry Fee: $35; $45 (final). Contact: 
MIFF; (207) 861-8138; fax: 872-5502; 
info@miff.org; www.miff.org. 

MARGARET MEAD FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, 

Nov. 3-13, NY. Deadline: May. Premiere US 
fest for nonfiction work, w/ no restrictions 
on subject, length, or yr. of production. Held 
at the American Museum of Natural History, 
the fest incls. forums & discussions w/ film- 
makers. Founded: 1977. Cats: Short, doc, 
animation, experimental, student, youth 
media. Awards: No awards, some financial 
assistance & honorarium. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: None. Contact: Festival; (212) 769- 



46 The Independent I April 2006 



5305; fax: 769-5329; meadfest@amnh.org; 
www.amnh.org/mead. 

NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL-rom the NOFF 
website: "Unlike many film fests, we bring 
films to the New Orleans market that would 
not ordinarily be screened here. The fest 
also provides ovides mentoring sessions & 
industry panels for local filmmakers. In spite 
of our losses due to Hurricane Katnna, we 
are determined to resume programming in 
the near future. Our staff will continue to 
work w/out pay, & our board members are 
volunteering their time & efforts. We plan to 
present an abbreviated 2005 fest in early 
2006, & w/ your help, we will present a full 
fest in the fall of 2006" See website to make 
a donation. Annual fest features premieres, 
classic film retros, panel discussions & gala 
events. Entries of all lengths & genres, incl. 
music videos, welcome. Entries must be 
completed after Jan. of previous year. 
Founded: 1990. Cats: Any style or genre, 
Animation, Doc, Experimental, Short, 
Feature, Student, Music Video. Awards: 
Awards based on jury selection, given in 
each genre, Grand Jury Prize, & Louisiana 
Filmmaker Prize. Formats: 1/2", 35mm (by 
invitation only), Beta, 35mm, DVD. Preview 
on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $40; $45 (final). 
Contact: Elisa Gallinot; (504) 523-3818; fax: 
782-5792; incompetition@neworleansfilm 
fest.com; www.neworleansfilmfest.com. 

PHILADELPHIA INT L GAY & LESBIAN FILM 
FESTIVAL, July 13-25, PA. Deadline: April 28. 
Competitive fest screening int'l features, 
documentaries, & shorts, w/ cash prizes for 
both jury & audience awards. Cats: feature, 
short, doc, children, animation. Awards 
Audience Award, Best Feature ($1,000) 
Audience Award, Gay Male Short ($500) 
Audience Award, Lesbian Short ($500); Jury 
Award, Best Feature ($500); Jury Award, 
Doc ($500); Jury Award, Lesbian Short 
($250); Jury Award, Gay Male Short ($250). 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Festival; (215)733-0608 ext. 249; 
fax: 733-0668; rmurray@phillyfests.com; 
www.phillyfests.com. 

RESFEST DIGITAL FILM FESTIVAL, Sept - Dec , 
NY, CA, DC, IL, MA, OR. Deadline: April 14; 
May 12 (final). Annual nat'l/int'l touring fest 
seeks short films/videos exploring the 
dynamic interplay of film, art, music & 



design. The Fest showcases the best of the 
year's shorts, features, music videos, & ani- 
mation along w/ screenings, live music 
events, parties, panel discussions, & tech 
demos. The underlying guideline for sub- 
missions is Innovation. The previous years 
the fest toured 30 plus cities int'lly. Entries 
must have been completed w/in the last 
two years. Cats: Doc, Experimental, 
Feature, Animation, music video, short. 
Awards: Audience Choice Award w/ cash 
prizes. Formats: DV, Beta SP, 35mm, 
DigiBeta (preferred), Mini DV (NTSC). 
Preview on VHS (NTSC or PAL), DVD (all 
regions), Beta SP (NTSC), Mini DV (NTSC). 
Entry Fee: $25; $30 (final). Contact: Festival; 
212-320-3750; filmmaker@resfest.com; 
www.resfest.com. 

STONY BROOK FILM FESTIVAL, July 20-29, NY 
Deadline: May 1 . Bringing the best in inde- 
pendent film to a discerning, film-loving 
community. Over 13,000 attending. 
Independent features & shorts in competi- 
tion; premieres, special screenings, film- 
maker panels & receptions. Cats: Feature, 
Short, Doc, Animation. Awards: Grand Prize, 
Jury Feature, Jury Short, Jury Directing, & 
Audience Choice Awards. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Alan Inkles; (631) 632-7235; fax: 
632-7354; filmfestival@stonybrookfilmfesti 
val.com; www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com. 

WOODS HOLE FILM FESTIVAL, July 29-Aug 5, 
MA. Deadline: April 1; May 15 (final). A 
showcase for independent film w/ special 
emphasis on regional filmmakers & cine- 
matography. Founded: 1991. Cats: feature, 
doc, short, animation, experimental, script. 
Awards: Best of the Fest, Best feature: 
drama, comedy, documentary; Short: 
drama, comedy, animation, documentary, 
experimental; Director's Choice Award for 
Cinematography. Formats: 16mm, 35mm, 
Beta SP, DVD, DigiBeta. Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: features: $40, $50 (final); 
shorts (under 40 mm.): $20, $30 (final). 
Contact: JC Bouvier; (508) 495-3456; 
info@woodsholefilmfestival.org; 
www.woodsholefilmfestival.org. 

INTERNATIONAL 



ANTIMATTER: UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL, 

Sept. 22-30, Canada. Deadline: April 15; May 





The AIVF Guide to 

Film & Video 
Distributors 

edited by Rania Richardson 

What You'll Find: 

Up-to-date profiles of close to 200 
distributors, supplemented by "how 
to" articles, selected reprints from 
The Independent, and in-depth inter- 
views with over 20 distributors. 
Published to order, ensuring the most 
current information that's available. 




April 2006 I The Independent 47 



31 (final). Annual int'l test seeks "imagina- 
tive, volatile, entertaining & critical" films & 
videos. Antimatter is "dedicated to cinema 
as art vs. product, regardless of the subver- 
sive or dangerous nature of its content, sty- 
listic concerns or commercial viability". 
Selected works may be included in upcom- 
ing int'l tours. Industrial, commercial & stu- 
dio products ineligible. Max 30 min., com- 
pleted w/in past two years. Founded: 1998. 
Cats: any style or genre, short. Formats: 
1/2", 16mm, DVD, Mmi-DV, Super 8. 
Preview on VHS, DVD. Entry Fee: $10; $20 
(final). Contact: Todd Eacrett, Director; 
(250) 385-3327; fax: 385-3327; info@anti 
matter.ws; www.antimatter.ws. 

AVANCA: INT'L MEETING OF CINEMA, TV, VIDEO 
& MULTIMEDIA, July 21-30, Portugal. 
Deadline: May 2. The objective is to "trace a 
global perspective of the contemporary fea- 
tures in cinema, television & multimedia". 
Cats: feature, doc, short, animation, experi- 
mental. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP, 
DV, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry 
Fee: None. Contact: Cine-Clube De Avanca; 
01 1 351 234 884 1 74; fax: 234 880 658; fes 
tival@avanca.com; www.avanca.com. 

GALWAY FILM FLEADH, July 11-16, Ireland. 
Deadline: April 14 (features); May 19 
(shorts). The foremost fest for presenting 
new Irish films alongside cutting edge int'l 
cinema. Over 60 features & 80 shorts 
screening over six days w/ int'l critics from 
Variety, Film Comment & other publications. 
Features completed after May 1, 2005 are 
eligible. Irish made shorts accepted only 
Founded: 1988. Cats: Short, Feature, Any 
style or genre, doc. Awards: Best Irish short, 
best first short, best doc, best animation (all 
must be directed by Irish filmmakers) & best 
first feature, best Feature doc (Feature open 
to Int'l Competition). Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta SP, DigiBeta. Preview on VHS 
or DVD. Entry Fee: 15 euro. Contact: Cluain 
Mhuire, ; 011 353 91 751655; fax: 011 353 
91 735831; gafleadh@iol.ie; www.galway 
filmfleadh.com. 

KARLOVY VARY INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, June 30- 
July 8, Czech Republic. Deadline: April 14. 
Annual FIAPF-recognized competitive fest, 
founded in 1 946. This fest is intended for lay 
as well as professional public & it offers to 



its visitors a carefully composed program, 
high-quality background, & a wide amount of 
services. Films must be world, int'l, or euro- 
pean premieres. Founded: 1946. Cats: Doc, 
Feature, Short. Awards: Grand Prize of 
Crystal Globe, Special Jury Award, Best 
Director Prize, Best Actor/Actress & 
Lifetime Achievement Award . Formats: 
35mm, 16mm. Preview on VHS or DVD 
(PAL Preference). Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
KVIFF; (011) 420 221 411 011; fax: 420 
221 411 033; program@kviff.com; 
www.kviff.com. 

MILAN0 FILM FESTIVAL, September , Italy 
Deadline: May 31. Annual fest invites fea- 
tures films & shorts (under 45 min.) from 
anyone who'd like to "invent, build, & 
destroy new ideas of cinema." Open to all 
entries produced after January 1, 2005. 
Cats: any style or genre, feature, doc, short, 
animation, experimental, music video, stu- 
dent. Awards: Awards incl. Aprile Award. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 8mm, DV, Beta SP, 
1/2". Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: none. 
Contact: Festival; 011 39 02 713 613; 
info@milanofilmfestival.it; www.milanofilm 
festival.it. 

MUNICH FILM FESTIVAL, July 15-22, 
Germany. Deadline: May 1 . Fest is open to 
all genres. Cats: any style or genre. Awards: 
Awards for Best Int'l TV Film & One Future 
Prize, w/ special awards for German film- 
makers. . Formats: 35mm, 16mm. Preview 
on VHS. Entry Fee: No entry fee. Contact: 
Eberhard Hauff , Director; 49 89 38 1 9 04 
0; fax: 38 19 04 26; info@filmfest 
muenchen.de; www.filmfest-muenchen.de. 

NICKEL INDEPENDENT FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, 

July 18-22, Canada. Deadline: March 
18;April 15 (final). The fest dubs itself as a 
"fest created by filmmakers for filmmak- 
ers". In addition to screenings of films & 
videos, the fest stages actor's workshops, Q 
& A periods w/ filmmakers, showcases local 
theatre pieces & features local music & 
readings between screenings. Founded: 
2001 . Cats: feature, doc, short, music video, 
any style or genre. Awards: Awards in vari- 
ous cats. Formats: Beta SP, 16mm. Preview 
on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $15 (early); $25 
(final). Contact: Roger Maunder; (709) 576- 
FEST; nickelfestival@yahoo.ca; www.nick 



elfestival.com. 

PARNU INT'L DOC & ANTHROPOLOGY FILM 
FESTIVAL July 2-16, Estonia. Deadline: April 
1 . The aim of the fest in general is to support 
cultural survival of peoples. Only documen- 
tary films & videos of high quality, recording 
human activities in social, historical or eco- 
logical context are accepted. Cats: doc. 
Awards: Grand Jury awards & Estonian 
People's award. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
Beta SP, DVD. Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Vaiko Edur; (011) 372 44 
30772; fax: 372 44 30774; 
vaiko@chaplm.ee;mark@chaplin.ee; 
www.chaplin.ee. 

PLANET FOCUS: TORONTO ENVIRONMENTAL 
FILM FESTIVAL, Nov. 1-5, Canada. Deadline: 
April 15; May 15. Fest recognizes that the 
"environment" is contested terrain, there- 
fore invites submissions in all genres that 
critically examine the concept of "environ- 
ment" & challenge current human/nature 
relations. Also, focused on works that pres- 
ent cultural perspectives that are under-rep- 
resented in Canada & works that will have 
their world or Canadian premiere at fest. 
Cats: any style or genre. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, Beta SP (PAL or NTSC), DigiBeta. 
VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $15; $20 (final). 
Contact: Festival; (416) 531-1769; mfo@plan- 
etinfocus.org; www.planet infocus.org. 

REVELATION PERTH INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, July 
13-23, Australia. Deadline: Apr. 17. 
Austrailia's major alternative film fest. Fest 
seeks to bring to Oz the best in maverick 
spirit & individual filmic style. Founded: 
1998. Cats: Doc only for 2001, feature, doc, 
short, animation, experimental, music video, 
student. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Betacam 
SP Beta SP, 1/2", DVD. Preview on VHS. 
Entry Fee: $20. Contact: Richard Sowada, 
Fest Dm; 011618 9335 2991 ; fax: 61 8 9335 
1 589; admm@revelationfilmfest.org; 

www.revelationfilmfest.org. 

SUNNY SIDE OF THE DOC MARKET, June 27 

23, France. Deadline: See Website/TBA. 
Annual market brings together ind. produc- 
ers, distributors, commissioning editors, 
heads of TV programming depts & buyers 
from all over the world. Attended by some 
539 companies from 35 countries, 183 buy- 



48 The Independent I April 2006 



ers & commissioning editors & 1 20 TV chan- 
nels. Market provides opportunities for proj- 
ect development & meeting partners w/ 
Side-by-Side sessions (one-on-one meetings 
w/ commissioning editors for adce on proj- 
ects). Founded: 1990. Cats: doc. Preview on 
VHS. Contact: Pole Media Belle de Mai ; 01 1 
33 4 95 04 44 80; fax: 33 4 91 84 38 34; con 
tact@sunnysideofthedoc.com; www.sun 
nysideofthedoc.com. 

VANCOUVER QUEER FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL, 

August 7-17, Canada. Deadline: April 3. 
Annual event screens both int'l & local 
Canadian films & videos of interest to the 
lesbian, gay, bisexual, &transgendered com- 
munities. Festival screens work of all 
lengths & genres & mcls. panels, work- 
shops, & receptions. Fees paid for inde- 
pendent work screened. Founded: 1989. 
Cats: any style or genre. Awards: Cash 
awards; audience awards.. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, 1/2", Beta SP, DV. Preview on VHS, 
NTSC only. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Michael Barrett, Director of Programming; 
(604) 844-1615; fax: 844-1698; general@out 
onscreen.com; www.outonscreen.com. 

WELLINGTON FILM FESTIVAL/AUCKLAND INT'L 
FILM FESTIVAL, July 13-30, New Zealand. 
Deadline: April 1 5. Noncompetitive fest, w/ a 
core program of 120 features (& as many 
shorts), fest simultaneously presents 
Auckland & Wellington Film Festivals & pro- 
grams that travel to cities of Dunedin & 
Christchurch. Founded: 1972. Cats: Feature, 
Short. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP. 
Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: None. Contact: 
Bill Gosden; 011 64 4 385 0162; fax: 801 
7304; entnes@nzff.co.nz; www.nzff.co.nz. 

THE XVI INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY, 
SHORTS AND ANIMATED FILMS FESTIVAL, 

July 18-31. Russia. Deadline: May 1. Fest 
by the Ministry of Culture of Russian 
Federation, St. Petersburg Culture 
Committee and the Russian Filmmakers' 
Union, to include the debut of the interna- 
tional competition, "Documentary Films of 
Russia." Only films completed after January 
1st, 2005. Awards: Cash prizes. Cats: Doc, 
Short, Animation. Formats: 16mm or 35mm 
(single soundtrack system). Preview on VHS 
or DVD (PAL, SECAM, NTSC). Contact: 
info@message-to-man.spb.ru; www.mes 
sage-to-man. spb.ru. 



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Deadline: June 30, 2006 



'The gutsy forum for independent nonfiction films." 
The New York Times 



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April 2006 I The Independent 49 



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AMAZEFILMS is constantly looking for fea- 
ture films and short films to include in its 
programming. We welcome filmmakers 
and writers to send us their work for con- 
sideration free of charge. If you feel that 
your short film, feature film or documen- 
tary film that you have produced would 
make a good addition to the AmazeFilms 
programming, please fill out the film sub- 
mission form: www.amazefilms.com/sub 
missions. 

BIG FILM SHORTS is a film distribution com- 
pany that specializes in short films, as well 
as other media and formats. We serve 
both as sales agents for filmmakers with 
whom we have contracts and as consult- 
ants for film bookers and programmers, 
drawing on the films in our catalog as well 
as films we select from third-party 
sources. The core of our business is our 
film library, which contains shorts in a vari- 
ety of genres, lengths, formats and nation- 
al origins. A great many of our films were 
popular favorites and award winners at 
Sundance, Tellunde, Cannes and other 
leading film festivals in the United States 
and around the world. 

COMEDY EXPRESS TV seeks funny films 



under 7 min. to show and promote on tel- 
evision. Please look at our website 
www.comedyexpresstv.com which gives 
more background as well as the online 
release which MUST accompany all sub- 
missions. Contact: Adam Gilad 9229 
Sunset Blvd LA, CA 90069 
adamgilad@mac.com; 310 271 0023. 

FOOTAGE REQUEST The annual Avid Show 
Reel features clips from the most innova- 
tive commercials, documentaries, music 
videos, feature films, television programs, 
and more from around the globe. And all 
created with Avid editing systems and/or 
Softimage animation software. It's a 
great, free way to get valuable exposure 
throughout the year — from NAB in Las 
Vegas to IBC in Amsterdam. For details, 
see www.avid.com/footage/. 

GLOBAL VILLAGE STOCK FOOTAGE If you are 

a producer owning the rights to high qual- 
ity betacam footage that may be of inter- 
est to other producers, we will add your 
material to our database at no charge to 
you. We will pay 50% of the royalties we 
collect for the licensing of your footage. In 
most cases we need to have first genera- 
tion copies or field masters at our facility 
to ensure rapid delivery to clients. We also 
prefer footage or programs that are 
logged by computer so we can readily add 
the footage descriptions to our database. 



For more information send us an instant E- 
mail or call: 1.800.798-FIND or 1.707.823- 
1451 or fax us at 1.707.829-9542. 

GOOGLE VIDEO UPLOAD PROGRAM is 

accepting digital video files of any length 
and size. Simply sign up for an account 
and upload your videos using our Video 
Uploader (you must own the rights to the 
works you upload), and, pending our 
approval process and the launch of this 
new service, we'll include your video in 
Google Video, where users will be able to 
search, preview, purchase and play it. 
https://upload.video.google.com/. 

THE MOUNTAIN FUND at www mountain- 
fund. org is looking for works that educate 
about issues affecting people in moun- 
tainous regions of the world. We want to 
add such content to our site to educate 
our visitors. If you are willing to have your 
works on our site. Please contact us. 

NATURAL HEROES is a Public Television 
series featuring independently produced 
films and videos. We're searching for 
compelling stories that feature people 
challenging current environmental stan- 
dards and conditions. Accepted works will 
be packaged for broadcast and distributed 
to Public Television stations across the 
country. There are no fees, contracts are 
non-exclusive, and any viewers interested 



50 The Independent I April 2006 



NBPC 



in purchasing your film would be sent 
directly to you. Download the Submission 
Form and Call for Entries from www.natu- 
ralheroestv.org Questions? Email natural- 
heroes@krcb.org or phone 707-585-8522 
x124. 

TIME:BASE is a curated exhibition of time- 
based media and art at Boley, an 8,000 sq 
ft. former bank in downtown Kansas City. 
Emphasis for 2006 May-June show is site- 
specific work and installation. Video, film, 
audio, installation, interactive art or per- 
formance of any type also considered. 
Send CD, DVD, VHS, URL or detailed pro- 
posal with entry form (www.time- 
base.org) to: time:base, 5100 Rockhill Rd 
Haag 202, Kansas City MO 64110. 
Tel/816/235-1708; time-base@hotmail. 

UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 

TV is looking for strong, original, quality 
educational and artistic programming for 
2006. Submissions are welcomed from 
across the globe— from production com- 
panies, community organizations, NGOs, 
filmmakers, students and artists- from 
November 2005 through April 2006 in the 
following categories: Conflicts and Rights, 
Caring for the elderly, the sick, the 
disabled, and Street Arts. Films must have 
been completed after 1/1/98 and can be 
from 10 to 90 mm. long. For details and 
submission form. For submission form 



and further information go to 
www.udc.edu/cable_tv_19/about_cabletv 
_19.htm or devans-pritchard@udc.edu. 

THE DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL is a new dig- 
ital cable channel dedicated to airing, 
exclusively, the works of the independent 
documentary filmmaker. There isn't a sin- 
gle type of documentary that they will not 
show, and they are not afraid of contro- 
versy. That said, they prefer the edgier, 
more personal films that tell a story and 
that show something in a unique, visual 
manner. See the website for submission 
instructions. Submissions accepted on a 
rolling basis. Please visit http://documen- 
tarychannel.com/index.htm for more infor- 
mation or email programs@documen 
tarychannel.com 

SUNDAYS IN THE CITY March Move 
Marathon 2006 which takes place at the 
Monster Gallery in Park Slope - Brooklyn 
every Sunday in March and the first two 
weeks in April is currently seeking film 
submissions for the event. Filmmakers 
with short films, feature films, documen- 
taries, and animation films are welcome to 
submit. For more information, please go 
to the website: www.lonebeast.com/sun 
daysinthecity/intro.html. 



RFP APPLICATIONS NOW 

AVAILABLE ONLINE! 

SUBMISSION DEADLINE 

JUNE 2, 2006 



For over twenty-five years, the 
National Black Programming Consortium 

(NBPC) has been dedicated to 

promoting, preserving and distributing 

programs that tell the complex and rich 

story of the Black experience. Since 1991, 

NBPC has awarded over$6 million to 

independent film and video projects. 

Some recently funded programs include: 



The Katrina Film Project 

Parliament Funkadelic: 
One Nation Under A Groove 

Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela 

Sweet Honey in The Rock: 
Raise Your Voice 

Beyond Beats & Rhymes 

Race Is The Place 



For more information about: 

Grants, Workshops, Acquisitions and 
Distribution visit 

www.nbpc.tv 

or write to: 

NBPC 

68 East 131st Street. 7th Floor 

New York, NY 10037 

info@nbpc.tv 



April 2006 I The Independent 51 



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COMPETITIONS 

APPLAUSE SCREENWRITING COMPETITION 

calling for original works of an author or 
authors and not previously optioned, 
purchased, or produced. Adaptations (no 
documentaries) are welcome provided 
the author assumes sole legal responsi- 
bility for obtaining copyrights to the 
adapted work. Prizes: Script submission 
to agents, managers, producers, lunch 
with Hollywood execs, exposure and 
promotion packages, coverage, script 
critiques, software, magazines, and 
other great product prizes. For more 
information www.applause4you.com 

SHORT FILM SLAM, NYC's only weekly 
short film competition, is looking for 
submissions. Competition on Sundays 
at 2 p.m. At the end of each show the 
audience votes for a winning film, which 
receives further screenings at the 
Pioneer Theater. To enter, you must 
have a film, 30 min. or less, in a 35mm, 
16mm, BetaSP, VHS, or DVD format. To 
submit your film, stop by the Pioneer 
Theater (155 E. 3rd St.) during operating 
hours, call (212) 254-7107, or visit 
www.twoboots.com/pioneer for more 
information. 

48 HOUR FILM PROJECT You're Creative! 
You can survive on caffeine and no 
sleep!?! Filmmaking teams make a 



movie from scratch in only one week- 
end! Less than two days later, the short 
films have their premiere at major 
local theaters in front of packed audi- 
ences. In each of the cities on the 48 
Hour Film Project tour, teams then com- 
pete to be named the "Best 
Film" for that city. Of those, one special 
film will win the prestigious "Best 48 
Hour Film of the Year." For dates and 
cities, www.48hourfilm.com/index.html 

CONFERENCES WORKSHOPS 

RAW WORD READINGS, a monthly 
readings series seeks 1 0-page excerpts 
from original screenplays. Up-and-com- 
ing actors perform 10 pages of work by 
up-and-coming screenwriters at 
Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, and 
Rock Candy (performance space) in NY 
Once a month. Please submit your pdf 
or word file, 10 compelling pages of 
material (include the title in the file- 
name) for consideration rawwordread 
mgs@yahoo.com. 

VOLUNTEER LAWYERS FOR THE ARTS: offer 
seminars on "Copyright Basics," 
"Nonprofit Incorporation & Tax 
Exemption" & more. Reservations must 
be made. Contact: (212) 319-2910 x. 9. 

24TH STREET WRITERS GROUP seeking 
new members - Monday Nights. Well 
established Manhattan based screen 
writing group is seeking committed new 
members for Monday evening meet- 
ings. If interested in being considered 
for membership, please send a 30 page 
writing sample in PDF format to 
the24thstwnters@aol.com. 



Wtlll 



EXPERIMENTAL TV CENTER offers grants 
& presentation funds to electronic 
media/film artists & organizations. 
Program provides partial assistance; 
maximum amount varies. Presentations 
must be open to public; limited-enroll- 
ment workshops & publicly supported 
educational institutions ineligible. Appl. 
reviewed monthly. Deadline: on-going . 
Contact: Program Dir., ETVC, 109 Lower 




Fairfield Rd., Newark Valley, NY 13811; 
(607) 687-4341; www.experimentaltv 
center.org 

FISCAL SPONSORSHIP - Film Forum is 

accepting applications for fiscal sponsor- 
ship from filmmakers. Film Forum 
retains 5% of all funds received on a 
project's behalf from foundations, cor- 
porations and individuals. To apply, 
email a cover letter, project description, 
bios of project leaders and proposed 
project budget to Dommick Balletta at 
dominick@filmforum.org. Dominick 
Balletta/ General Manager/ FILM 
FORUM/ 209 West Houston Street/ 
NYC 10014/212.627.2035. 

THE FUND FOR WOMEN ARTISTS is a non 

profit organization dedicated to helping 
women get the resources they need to 
do their creative work. We focus on 
women using their art to address social 
issues, especially women in theatre, 
film, and video, and we have two pri- 
mary goals: To Challenge Stereotypes - 
We support the creation of art that 
reflects the full diversity and complexity 
of women's lives. To Increase 
Opportunities - We advocate for women 
artists to be paid fairly and to have more 
opportunities to make a living from their 
creative work. To learn more about our 
work, and to sign up to receive these 
funding newsletters, visit our web page 
at: www.WomenArts.org . 

IFP MARKET Are you seeking financing or 
a producer for your script? Completion 
funds or distribution for your documen- 
tary? Looking to expand your contact 
list? The IFP Market is a great place to 
begin: the only selective forum in the US 
to introduce new work to an industry- 
only audience of sales companies, fest 
programmers, distributors, broadcast- 
ers, producers and agents from the US 
and abroad. Rolling deadlines begin May 
1. Application fees and Attendance fee 
upon acceptance as well as other details 
can be found online at www.ifp.org 
starting March 1. For more details call 
212-465-8200 x 222 or email marke- 
treg@ifp.org 



52 The Independent I April 2006 



WGBH LAB, a program of PBS affiliate 
WGBH Boston, invites independent 
filmmakers and innovators from related 
industries to produce or post-produce an 
independently funded film for a six- to 
nine-month residency at WGBH from 
September to May. The Filmmaker-in- 
Residence grants WGBH a right of first 
refusal on new proposals, finished pro- 
grams and/or program concepts for local 
or national broadcast or development. 
The Filmmaker-in-Residence will curate 
or participate in screenings and portfolio 
sessions with WGBH colleagues. The 
Filmmaker-in-Residence program is 
open to independent filmmakers and 
producers from related industries such 
as commercial television, feature films, 
advertising, Web, or animation. New 
England area residents are given priority. 
See http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/produc 
ingfortv/index.html for details. 

KQED-TV IN SAN FRANCISCO like most 
local PBS affiliates provides in-kind post- 
production assistance to a number of 
independent projects each year. Subject 
must be compelling & of interest to 
KQED's viewers, or attract new audi- 
ences. Material must pass technical 
evaluation for broadcast quality. 
Producer must supply rough cut for 
review. KQED also takes on a number of 
co-productions each year. For more info, 
call (415) 553-2859 or go to 
www.kqed.org/tv/indieproducers/. 

SCHOLARSHIP FUND for Women 
Filmmakers $20,000 scholarship offered 
by Muse Media. San Francisco 
Women's Film Festival forms relation- 
ship with Muse Media to support 
women filmmakers to complete their 
films. For more information about how 
to qualify for the scholarship contact: 
scholarship@womensfilmfestival.us, the 
SFWFF website at womensfilmfesti 
val.us. 

THE TEXAS FILMMAKERS' PRODUCTION 

FUND is an annual grant awarded to 
emerging film and video artists in the 
state of Texas. Funded through rev- 
enues from benefit film premieres and 
private and corporate donations, the 



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TFPF is our effort to redress the loss of 
public funds for filmmakers. Application 
available at www.austinfilm.org/tfpf/ in 
March, 2006. 

MICROCINEMAS SCREENINGS 

911 MEDIA ARTS CENTER was incorporat- 
ed in 1984 and is considered 
Washington State's premier Media Arts 
Center. 911 screenings are booked 
quarterly. Submissions are accepted on 
a rolling basis. Quarterly deadlines are 
as follows: Spring -> Last day of 
February. Summer -> Last day of May. 
Fall -> Last day of August. Winter -> 
Last day of November. Submission 
Address: Screenings Committee /911 
Media Arts Center / 402 9th Ave N. / 
Seattle, WA 98109 /(206) 682-6552 / 
info@91 1media.org. 

FILM AND VIDEO 825 - Series of bi-month- 
ly screenings of locally, nationally and 
internationally recognized film and video 
artists' work, providing a forum for pre- 
senting experimental film and video in 
Los Angeles. In a city dominated by 
Hollywood, venues such as ours 
become a necessity for artists working 
in time-based media that is outside the 
mainstream of narrative cinema. Our 
curatorial vision is open to both shorts 
and features in experimental, perform- 
ance, animation, and documentary 
forms. Film/Video 825, Gallery 
825/LAAA, 825 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los 
Angeles, CA 90069, T: (310) 652-8272, 
F: (310) 652-9251, gallery825@laaa.org, 
www.laaa.org/calendar/film_video.html. 

ROOFTOP FILMS Submit your movies! We 
are currently accepting films for our 1 0th 
anniversary season, the 2006 Summer 
Series. We want motion that tell us 
about where you live and how you live, 
and we seek independent movies with 
original ideas, of production values. We 
accept films of all genres and lengths. 
The festival consists of weekly shows in 
parks, along piers, in historical locations 
or on rooftops in New York City. 
Curators encouraged to submit entire 
programs of films. For information, 
please visit www.rooftopfilms.com or 
email Dan Nuxoll, programming director, 



at submit@rooftopflims.com. 

BROADCAST CABLECAST 

AXLEGREASE PUBLIC ACCESS CABLE 
SHOW Tuesdays at 2:00 PM on Channel 
20 Become part of current media mak- 
ing history and submit your media work 
to be shown on TV, on our legendary 
public access cable show. Commercial 
free, 100% media art TV. Provide us 
with mini-dv, vhs, svhs, or 8mm video 
(ntsc) tapes with a running time of 28 
min. or less. Your work may also be dis- 
played in our storefront window. Your 
entry will become a part of our Member 
Viewing Library unless you include an 
SASE. Axlegrease is open to local and 
international artists. Send tapes 
Attention: Axlegrease. Formats accept- 
ed: mini-dv, s-vhs, vhs or dvd. Visit 
www.squeaky.org/opportunities. html#o 
ngoing for more information. 

DUTV, A progressive, nonprofit educa- 
tional channel in Philadelphia seeks 
works by indie producers. All genres & 
lengths considered. Will return tapes. 
BetaSP DV, dvd accepted for possible 
cablecast. Contact: Debbie Rudman, 
DUTV, 3141 Chestnut St., Bldg 9B, Rm 
0016,Philadelphia, PA 19104; (215) 895- 
2927; dutv@drexel.edu; www.dutv.org. 

GET YOUR FILM SHOWN ON SKY! Propeller 
TV is the new national channel for film 
and television talent, to launch in the 
new year on SKY. The Film First strand 
of the channel is looking for short films 
to be considered for broadcast. They 
can be any length and genre. You don't 
have to be Spielberg to be considered 
for the channel, you could be an inde- 
pendent filmmaker or even a communi- 
ty-based group. Please send films on 
DVD for broadcast consideration to: 
John Offord, Propeller TV, c/o Screen 
Yorkshire, 46 The Calls, Leeds LS2 7EY 
john@propellertv.co.uk (0)7724 243680. 

THE SHORT LIST. Weekly, half-hour inter- 
national short film series on PBS and 
Cox Cable now licensing for 14th sea- 
son. Considers shorts 30 sees, to 20 
mins (fiction, animation, documentary). 
Send DVD screener with application 



form downloaded from www.theshort 
list.ee. 

WIRESTREAM FILMSEARCH seeks films 
for broadcast. WireStream Productions, 
in Co-operation with WireStream net- 
works, is seeking independent films and 
television series for broadcast. Genre 
welcome include Drama, Comedy, SciFi, 
Fantasy, Nonaction/ Reality and 
Educational films and series, suitable for 
general/mature audiences. All entries 
must be available for all rights world- 
wide. Entries previously presented are 
eligible subject to confirmation of rights. 
Submit entries to Waye Hicks, 
Executive Producer, via email to 
wayne@wirestreamproductions.com, or 
by Parcel Post to WireStream 
Productions, 3005B W.Hwy 76, Branson 
MO 65616. 

WEBCAST 

FILMFIGHTS.COM democratic filmfestival 
that anyone can enter, 3 times a month. 
We filmfight every ten days of the 
month (the 10th, 20th, and 30th) and 
submissions are due 1 day before the 
fight-given a title or genre, the submis- 
sions are voted on through the website. 
The winner is the winner and goes into 
the archives, and their video sits front 
and center until the next winner is 
crowned, along with a little blurb about 
whatever they feel like. Please visit the 
website for a complete list of guidelines: 
http://filmfights.com/submit.shtml. 

MYREELONLINE.NET is Launching 
Webcast Service, March 2006. 
Accepting all short film submissions 
under 10 minutes to be included in a 
weekly broadcast over the web. The 
films that are accepted will be broadcast 
over the web in a weekly show. We are 
currently accepting any and all genres, 
and the shorter the better. There is no 
charge for entries, and all filmmakers 
will retain all rights to the film. Email 
info@myreelonline.net for details or go 
to www.myreelonline.net. 



54 The Independent I April 2006 




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vals, distributors, and name actors. Call 
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COMPOSER, WELL ESTABLISHED, look- 
ing for vital, unique, independent film to 
score. Budget not a big issue for the right 
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56 The Independent I April 2006 



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Contact Carol, Pearl in an Osyter 
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scripts ready for shooting. Face it. You're 
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your idea from concept to screen. We offer 
free project evaluation for all comers and 
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up on this offer. For more information 
visit us @ www.gopicturesnyc.com. Make 
your project a GO - GO Pictures! 

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music is what we do - brilliantly! Talent 
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lauren@talentsolutions.com or Talent 
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60 The Independent I April 2006 



POSTPRODUCTION 





AUDIO POST-PRODUCTION. Audio com 
pletion on your doc or film. Well Credited 
and experienced. Visit website for Credit 
List. Terra Vista Media, Inc. Tel 562 437- 
0393. 

EDITOR & FCP INSTRUCTOR: DV & BETA 
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WEB SITE DESIGNER: Create multimedia 
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cial effects, that promote your films and/or 
your company. Info: Sabine Probst, 
phone: 646-226-7881, sabine@spromo.net, 
www.sabineprobstdesign.com. 

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THANK YOU 



The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) provides a wide range of pro- 
grams and services for independent moving image makers and the media community, 
including The Independent and a series of resource publications, seminars and workshops, 
information services, and arts and media policy advocacy. 

None of this work would be possible without the generous support of the AIVF mem- 
bership and the following organizations: 



NYSCA 

O 

PBS 



Kodak 

Melton Picnri Film 



City of New York Dept. of Cultural Affairs 

Discovery Wines 

Experimental Television Center Ltd. 

Forest Creatures Entertainment, Inc. 

Home Box Office 

The Jewish Communal Fund 

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 

The Nathan Cummings Foundation 

The National Endowment for the Arts 

New York State Council on the Arts 

The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation 

PBS 

Yuengling Beer 

The Advertising Club 

Kodak 



We also wish to thank the following individuals and organizational members: 

BUSINESS/INDUSTRY MEMBERS: AL: Cypress Moon Productions; CA: 
SJPL Films, Ltd.; CO: CU Film Studies, Pay Reel; CT: Anvil Production; FL: 
Charter Pictures Entertainment; IL: Shattering Paradigms Entertainment, 
LLC; MD: NewsGroup, Inc.; TLF Limited Management; Ml: Logic Media 
LLC; MS: Magnolia Independent Film Festival; NY: Entertainment Pro 
Insurance; Cypress Films; Deutsch/Open City Films; Docurama; Forest 
Creatures Entertainment; getcast.com; Larry Engel Productions Inc.; 
Lightworks Producing Group; Mad Mad Judy; Metropolis Film Lab; Missing 
Pixel; New School University; Off Ramp Films, Inc.; On the Prowl 
Productions; OVO; Production Central; Range Post; Robin Frank 
Management; Rockbottom Entertainment, LLC; Talent Solutions; The 
Outpost; Triune Pictures; United Spheres Production; VA: Karma 
Communications Film & Video; WA: Two 

FRIENDS OF AIVF: Angela Alston, Sabina Maja Angel, Tom Basham, Aldo 
Bello, David Bemis, Doug Block, Liz Canner, Hugo Cassirer, Williams Cole, 
Anne del Castillo, Arthur Dong, Martin Edelstein, Esq., Aaron Edison, Paul 
Espinosa, Karen Freedman, Lucy Garrity, Norman Gendelman, Debra Granik, 
Catherine Gund, Peter Gunthel, David Haas, Kyle Henry, Lou Hernandez, Lisa 
Jackson, John Kavanaugh, Stan Konowitz, Leonard Kurz, Lyda Kuth, Steven 
Lawrence, Bart Lawson, Regge Life, Juan Mandelbaum, Diane Markrow, 
Tracy Mazza, Leonard McClure, Daphne McDuffie-Tucker, Jim McKay, Michele 
Meek, Robert Millis, Robert Millis, Richard Numeroff, Elizabeth Peters, Laura 
Poitras, Robert Richter, Hiroto Saito, Larry Sapadin, James Schamus, John 
Schmidt, Nat Segaloff, Robert Seigel, Gail Silva, Innes Smolansky, Barbara 
Sostaric, Alexander Spencer, Miriam Stern, George Stoney, Rhonda Leigh 
Tanzman, Rahdi Taylor, KarlTrappe, Jane Wagner, Bart Weiss 




Pay only $180 for 51 issues* of 
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To take advantage of this offer 
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April 2006 I The Independent 63 



THE LIST 

Why Watch? 



By Erica Berenstein 



Public television has been the first place to broadcast new and innovative shows, and the last haven for 

others. What has public television — the home of ITVS, "P.O.V." and "Independent Lens" — meant to 

independent filmmakers? Does the value lie in the content, the spelling lessons, the politics, 

or the opportunity for getting independent films out there? 



"While I have never aspired to have my work broadcast on 
PBS, it has always played a formative role in my development 
as an artist. I can't remember the exact moment when I jumped 
from "Sesame Street" to "Frontline," but within those two polar 
broadcast cultures is embedded an authentic dedication to the 
viewer. Without the simplistic or exploitive drive for a com- 
mercial payoff, PBS resonates with integrity and that has been 
the primary goal for me in all of my films." 

— Stephen Marshall, director, BattleGround: 21 Days on the 

Empires Edge, This Revolution. 



"Public Television is more than a network; it's an institution. 
And if there's any question as to its lasting influence and ongo- 
ing relevance, just ask anyone who grew up watching "Mr. 
Rogers' Neighborhood," "The Electric Company," or "Sesame 
Street." As a child, I remember watching this sort of thoughtful 
children's programming when fun and knowledge weren't 
mutually exclusive terms. 

PBS was also the first channel to air such shows as "Siskel &: 
Ebert" on Sneak Previews for budding cinephiles everywhere. 
In high school, I remember catching a screening of 1983's 
Koyaanisqatsi, which promptly blew my mind with its hypnot- 
ic montages of time-lapse cinematography wedded to Philip 
Glass' ethereal score. Simple and sublime. This is what public 
broadcasting is all about, and I'm a far more sophisticated and 
open-minded artist and viewer as a result of PBS's legacy of risk- 
taking programming with a heartbeat." 

— Neil Kendricks, filmmaker and film curator of the 
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego 



"PBS has been the holy grail for integrity content since I 
started as a nonfiction filmmaker. At age 23, my first ITVS gig 
felt like my first proud step into professionalism. On a spectrum 
where pay television often leans too far towards commercial val- 
ues and educational video tends too far toward needing to shoot 
spit balls in history class to stay awake, PBS most often meets 
the knowledge-thirsty viewer where she's at." 

— Jeff Zimbalist, director, editor, producer Favela Rising 



"North Carolina's PBS station UNC-TV does terrific work 
on behalf of indie filmmakers with its 'North Carolina Visions' 
series. The series has televised and supported early work by over 
200 indie filmmakers, including David Gordon Green, Tim 
Orr, and up-and-comers Ramin Bahrani and Danny McBride. 
That said, I never liked "ZOOM" or "Electric Company," and 
I still don't." 

— Jeff Bens, author, Albert, Himself, director, Fatmans 



"Public television absolutely changed my life. Cinema 13, 
which I grew up watching as a kid in Westchester, 1) complete- 
ly transformed my early film education; 2) got me sneaking 
into the city to see Truffaut, and 3) showed me that Alfred 
Hitchcock and Ingmar Bergman were BOTH geniuses, even 
though one was a scary genius in English and one was a scary 
genius in Swedish." 

— Suzanne Fedak, head of theatrical distribution, 

Koch Lorber Films 



64 T he Independent I April 2006 



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Because we're there for you, man. 



Volume 29 Number 4 

Cover: Lee Daniels' film, Shadoivboxe>\ comes out in June. (Peter Svarzbein) 

Below: The protagonists of Larry Clark's new film, Wassup Rockers, are free-spirited 

— to say the least. Here Kiko flees a bubble bath and Janice Dickinson, (still by Larry Clark) 




4 Editor's Letter 

5 Contributors 

6 On DVD 

Reviews of films now available on DVD 
By The Independent's friends and family 

8 Outtakes 

Bike-inspired cinema, "DocStock," and 
Wholphin, a quarterly DVD of shorts 

By Erica Berenstein, Derek Loosvelt, 

& Katherine Dykstra 

1 1 Doc Doctor 

Using the buzz around your current film; 
what to do when someone else has your idea 
By Fernanda Rossi 

13 Profile 

Filmmaker Georgia Lee sheds light on the 
average American family 
By Sarah Coleman 

17 Q/A 

Larry Clark's new film Wassup Rockers 
will shock you 

By Katherine Dykstra 

2 1 Production Journal 

Wild ride: Shadowboxer, from script to screen 
By Lee Daniels 



38 Q/A 

James Schamus on Brokeback Mountain, 
Focus Features, and the rest of his legacy 
By Rebecca Carroll 

43 Festival Circuit 

Dispatch from the Berlinale Talent Campus 
By Claus Mueller 

47 Tools You Can Use 

The latest in cameras, software, and more 
By Mike Curtis 



Features 



25 Show Us Your Shorts 

Short films have discovered new life, not to 
mention a whole new audience, on the internet 
By Erica Berenstein 

29 Caught in the Web 
Netting higher sales online 

By Anthony Kaufman 

30 On the Margins of 
the Multiplex 

Young visionaries bring indie film to small cities 
By Danielle DiGiacomo 

34 Bumps in the Road 

Compromise in the new world of documentary 
By Angela Martenez 



Listings 

49 Festivals 

54 Work Wanted 

55 Notices 
59 Classifieds 

63 Thanks 

64 The List 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 3 







Dear Readers, 

It's 2:34 a.m. I tend to write these let- 
ters late at night. Actually, I tend to write 
most things late at night, after the rest of 
the world has gone to bed, and I can feel 
alone, apart. I think this is the way it is 
for a lot of writers. 

Filmmakers, I've always thought, do it 
differently. While their creative planning 
may be solo, executing their vision usual- 
ly requires others: techies, consultants, 
lawyers, actors/subjects. This mandatory 
collaborative process has always seemed 
to me both a blessing and a burden. 

But things are changing. In just the 
past year, the increase in affordable DIY 
options for creating, screening, market- 
ing, and distributing, available mostly via 
the web, have made it easier than ever to 
make a film without as many middle- 
men. As Erica Berenstein explored for 
this issue, online showcases like IFILM 
and Youtube.com allow filmmakers to 
share their shorts with many more poten- 
tial viewers and distributors than say a 
film festival would. Similar online servic- 
es have also radically altered the process 
of selling features, as Anthony Kaufman 
explains. And more arthouses, and there- 
fore more screens for indie work (plus 
cappuccinos), are sprouting up all over 
the country, according to Danielle 
DiGiacomo. 

But is the increased access actually 
helping or hurting media makers? Angela 
Martenez spoke to a wide range of film- 
makers about what they've had to com- 
promise in order to get their films made, 



and whether eliminating these sacrifices 
is better (or worse) for their art. 

We've informally called this issue the 
indie survival guide, which has inspired 
more enthusiastic pitches than usual. I'm 
not surprised. As artists, as media makers, 
as urbanites, we're experts at. as well as 
infinitely curious about, finding new 
ways to approach a challenge. (As I write 
this, my faulty toilet is running, and I 
just realized that I've been trying to pre- 
tend the noise was a gurgling stream.) 

Since it's often the individual stories 
that best illuminate survival tactics, we 
spoke to four fascinating though incredi- 
bly different artists who have made it 
work despite the odds — from Larry 
Clark, whose Kids rocketed a new style of 
reality filmmaking in 1995 and who 
returns to the scene with Wassup Rockers, 
to Georgia Lee whose feature debut Red 
Doors is the beginning of a long though 
initially unlikely career. Monster's Ball- 
producer Lee Daniels explains, in his 
own very compelling voice, the story of 
directing his first feature, Shadowboxer, 
about a unique mother/son relationship. 
And producer and former AIVF board 
member James Schamus who almost 
(and probably should have) brought 
home the Oscar for Brokeback Mountain, 
talks about the triumph of Focus Features 
and the new landscape for independents. 

This issue also introduces our new and 
improved Tools column — written by the 
extremely knowledgeable Mike Curtis, 
aka the HD-for-Indies guy. Also new is 
the "Outtakes" column, which highlights 
unique and useful developments in the 
industry — Plum Pictures "DocStock," 
McSweeneys Wholphin (where DVD 
meets magazine), and the fifth annual 
tour of the Bicycle Film Festival. 

This is one of those issues that, honest- 
ly, is just a good read from start to finish — 
no matter what time it is where you are. 
Enjoy, and thanks for reading 
The Independent, 
Shana Liebman 
Editor-in-Chief 



■ I FILM AND WOEO MONTHLY I 

Independent 



Editor-in-Chief: Shana Liebman 

ieditor@aivf.org] 

Senior Editor: Katherine Dykstra 

[katherine@aivf.org] 

Associate Editor: Erica Berenstein 

[notices@aivf.org] 

Designer: R. Benjamin Brown 

[benbrowngraphic@msn.com] 

Graphics Director: Timothy Schmidt 

[graphics@aivf.org] 

Editor-at-Large: Rebecca Carroll 

[mdie.carroll@gmail.com] 

Intern: Marshall Crook 

[marshall.crook@gmail.com] 

Contributing Editors: 

Sherman Alexie, David Aim, Pat Aufderheide, 

Bo Mehrad, Cara Mertes, Joshua Neuman, Sean Shodahl 

Contributing Writers: 

Elizabeth Angell, Sarah Coleman, Lisa Selin Davis, 

Nicole Davis, Matt Dunne, Rick Harrison 

Advertising Representative: Veronica Shea 

(212) 807-1400 x232; [veronica@aivf.org] 

Classified Advertising 

(212) 807-1400 x241; [classifieds@aivf.org] 

National Distribution: 

Ingram Periodicals (800) 627-6247 



POSTMASTER Send address changes to: 

The Independent 
304 Hudson St., 6 fl„ New York, NY 10013 

The Independent (ISSN 1077-8918) is published monthly (except 
combined issues January/February and July/August) by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film (FIVF), a 501(c)(3) ded- 
icated to the advancement of media arts and artists. Subscription to 
the magazine is included in annual membership dues ($70/yr indi- 
vidual; $40/yr student; S200/yr nonprofit/school; $200-700/yr busi- 
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Publication of any ad in The Independent does not constitute 
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Reprints require written permission and acknowledge- 
ment of the article's previous appearance in The 
Independent The Independent is indexed in the Alternative 
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AIVF/FIVF staff: Sean Shodahl, program director; 
Priscilla Grim, membership director; Weo Services US, 
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sel: Robert I, Freedman, Esq., Cowan, DeBaets, 
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© Foundation for Independent Video & Film, Inc. 2006 
Visit The Independent online at: www.aivf.org 



4 The Independent I May/June 2006 



CONTRIBUTORS 




CLAUS MUELLER has authored 
books, articles, and presentations on 
communications issues. He has been 
the recipient of several awards, includ- 
ing two Fulbrights. He teaches media 
research and sociology at Hunter, 
works as a correspondent for print and 
electronic publications, and as a con- 
sultant for independent productions. 
Among his projects is the organization 
of the annual issue-oriented New York 
Screening Conference for policy and 
opinion makers, which includes a 
Congressional Briefing and focuses this 
year on 'Women and HIV/AIDS'. 
Claus Mueller serves on the board of 
directors of several nonprofit organiza- 
tions and is a member of the American 
Council on Germany, the Carnegie 
Council on Internationl Relations, the 
International Radio and Television 
Society, and the Foreign Press 
Association. He received his education 
at the University of Cologne, the 
Institut d'Etudes Politiques and the 
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in 
Paris, and the New School for Social 
Research. 




ANTHONY KAUFMAN has written 
about film and the film industry for the 
New York Times, Chicago Tribune and 
Utne Magazine. He is also a regular 
contributor to The Wall Street journal 
online, the Village Voice, indieWIRE, 
and Filmmaker Magazine, as well as the 
editor of Steven Soderbergh: Interviews. 
He can be found at 
blogs.indiewire.com/anthony. 





1 


**■*■ 1 




•* " 




* Jf 






J 


1 

• 

i 

\ 


B 



DEREK LOOSVELT recently received 
an MFA from the New School. His 
writing has appeared in Brill's Content, 
Inside.com, Blue Magazine, and 
Pindeldyboz, among other publications. 
He lives in Brooklyn. 



ANGELA MARTENEZ is a native 
New Yorker still taken with her home- 
town. She has produced projects from 
commercials to documentaries, includ- 
ing programs for PBS, The History 
Channel, and HBO/Cinemax. Angela is 
currently in production on her first 
documentary feature. 




MIKE CURTIS is an HD production 
and postproduction consultant based 
in Austin, Texas. He runs the informa- 
tional website, HDforIndies.com, and 
has been working in digital media 
production for over 1 5 years. He now 
focuses his efforts on high-quality, low- 
cost moviemaking using HD and 
desktop based tools. He can be reached 
at mike@hdforindies.com. 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 5 




Slasher, www.docurama.com 

This IFC documentary directed by John 
Landis culled its material from over 100 hours 
of footage taken during one kamikaze weekend 
at a used car lot in Memphis. Landis, better 
known for his offbeat chef d'oeuvre. Animal 
House, wanted to make a political film about 
the evils of capitalism but instead got suckered 
into the morally vacuous personality of Michael 
Bennett a.k.a the "Slasher." Touted as a "supe- 
rior" used-car salesman from southern 
California, Bennett is flown into Tennessee to 
help a desperate dealership move some "stale 
merchandise." He and his two partners plan to 
sell over 30 cars in one weekend and to do so, 
they besiege one small unsuspecting communi- 
ty with signs, balloons, and official phony Mont 
Blanc pens. It's immediately apparent why 
Landis found this guy fascinating enough to 
film — he spends his Memphis days in a fever 
pitch: drinking, smoking, and scamming unso- 
phisticated consumers with a grizzled sort of 
grace. Then he goes home to his loving wife 
and daughters where for an average of six days a 
month he actually likes himself. Soulful, 
Southern music provides a welcome respite 
from Bennett's tireless cacophony of sales-speak 
and self-analysis, and one wonderful scene is 
stolen outright by a beer-guzzling goat. 
Unfortunately, as the film focuses on Bennett's 
personal issues, it becomes less interesting. 
Searching in vain for a point, Slasher drags to an 
end, and feels significantly longer than its 85 
minutes. DVD extras include making-of and 
deleted scenes, which are just as unentertaining 



as the rest of the film. Five seconds into the 
audio commentary, Landis announces himself 
by saying "It's not my fault," and I realized that 
I would rather use chopsticks to extract my left 
eyeball than listen to the rest. Car salesmen and 
recreational heroin users, however, might enjoy 
this film. 

— Jeffrey Baron 

Panihari: The Water Women of India, 

www.choicesvideo.net 

This short documentary (30 minutes) 
weaves beautiful images of camels, sand, and 
neon-colored plastic water carrying bottles in 
with the hardship of women who walk eight 
miles, several times a day, to provide water for 
their families. Panihari is an intense portrait of 
the lives of the women of the Thar desert, but 
the constant intrusion of the male co-directors' 
narrating voices risks turning it into a travel log 
when they make unnecessary, forced statements 
such as, "To understand the desert, we would 
have to go there." The choices in the use of nar- 
ration create a similarly constructed atmosphere 
when the voice of the central character, a 
woman who keeps her face covered until long 
into the interview, is dubbed over by a transla- 
tor's voice. Panihari is a significant film — and 
worth seeing if you can forgive the unnecessary 
and almost narcissistic presence of the directors 
in the audio track -because water, arguably the 
most important natural resource we have, rarely 
gets this kind of attention in a world where war 
abounds, and oil does not. 

— Erica Berenstein 



e Independent I May/June 2006 




i SUNDANCE "1 X IN 

JfiLMFtsTiwiI Isr 




"TWICE 



^piercingly poignant then-and-now portrait. 

So palpable it puts a lump in your throat." 




"Sdarp, witty and compassionate 

~S?Ji tvmc'rsco Weekly 



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2KE? 




Bukowski: Born Into This, 

www.magpictures.com 

In his first feature, director John Dullaghan 
tells the story of Charles Bukowski through a 
series of interviews the writer gave for 
European television in the '70s and '80s. A for- 
midable raconteur, he talks about losing his vir- 
ginity; his struggling years spent working as a 
mail carrier; trying to get published; the bars; 
the booze; the succession of women. Especially 
compelling is Bukowski's unique sense of the 
poetic in everyday life — he can make the 
experience of using the toilet sound like a spir- 
itual event. 

The Bukowski interview footage is deftly 
interwoven with commentary from people 
who knew him: girlfriends and wives (in one 
Jerry Springer-like moment, Bukowski fights 
on camera with then girlfriend Linda); pub- 
lishers, William Packard of the New York 
Quarterly describes Bukowski's legacy: "He was 
devoted to the 'de-Disneyfication' of all of us. . . 
to kick the Mickey Mouse right out of our 
heads." Hollywood icons — from Sean Penn and 
Bono to Tom Waits and Harry Dean Stanton — 
lend perspective on the poet's wider impact. 

Two noteworthy extras among the extended 
interviews and deleted scenes: Tom Waits gives 
an inspired reading of "The Laughing Heart," 
while Bono takes on "Roll the Dice" with quin- 
tessentially Irish elan. Their distinctive voices 
and adroit handling of the text make me wish 
the two would record a Bukowski 'tribute' 
album. 

— J. Fagen 



The Same River Twice, 

www.docurama.com 

In 1978, filmmaker Rob Moss and his free- 
spirited buddies spent a month in the Grand 
Canyon — rafting and camping, mostly naked. 
Ross filmed that experience for Riverdog and 20- 
odd years later interspersed that same footage 
with commentary from the baby boomers those 
hippies had become. But The Same River Twice is 
not one of those films about people whom the 
filmmaker finds fascinating because he knows 
them. It's actually a very entertaining portrait of 
several adults and their reflections on how they 
got to now. Some of the characters are more 
articulate or just more charismatic than others 
(like Jim who lives in a half-trailer), but even the 
less eccentric characters' commentary, cut with 
scenes of them 20 years before debating rafting 
strategy on a beach full of naked bodies, is 
poignant. Fifty-year-old Barry's discovery that he 
has cancer, and his pursuit of treatment and 
adept reflections on the experience, lend a 
refreshingly unpredictable plotline. I'm not sure 
the film achieves the "cultural/pharmacological 
time-line" that Moss anticipated, but it is a very 
interesting portrait of the journey to adult- 
hood — what that means to different people, 
especially those who have the opportunity to 
actually watch their youthful selves at play. In 
that sense, this film is testament to the power of 
cinema as a cultural and historical tool. DVD 
extras are not particularly thrilling — a long lec- 
ture Moss gave at Harvard, for example, doesn't 
lend much background. 

— Shana Liebman 



Plymptoons: The Complete Early Works of 
Bill Plympton, www.newvideo.com 

The 23 included pieces run in chronological 
order beginning with "Self Portrait" and "The 
Great Turn On," two of the very first animated 
shorts Plympton completed in the late 1960s 
(while in college) and running through cult 
favorites such as "25 Ways to Quit Smoking," 
"How to Kiss," and the Academy Award-nomi- 
nated, "Your Face." Though his films get techni- 
cally more masterful (the characters in "The 
Great Turn On" are little more than stick fig- 
ures), from the very first film, his trademark 
shimmer and shake, achieved by filming one 
drawing for every four frames of film, is already 
present — a testament to the consistency of his 
vision. Constant also is Plympton's dark brand of 
comedy, which wavers between pleasantly odd 
and cringe-worthy (one character noshes on but- 
tered toast which has just landed face down on a 
very dirty floor). In the DVD extra, "Sunday 
with Bill," an interactive interview with 
Plympton during which he details his journey 
from child to cartoonist to animator, he explains 
his affinity for the bizarre as merely honesty 
about what goes on in his head. Also in the can- 
did interview, Plympton discusses his own tech- 
nical heroes, the moment he realized he could 
make it as an animator, and how nervous he was 
the first time he screened his animation — a 
must-watch for any enthusiast. Other extras 
include a nine-minute silent doc of Plympton at 
his drawing board and a sketch gallery of frames 
from a few of his well-known works, "Your Face" 
among them. 

— Katherine Dykstra 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 7 



Outtakes 



Stock of Docs 




By Derek Loosvelr 

There are 150,000 home- 
less Vietnam veterans in 
the U.S. In addition to 
the 59,000 American soldiers 
killed in the Vietnam War, an 
estimated 59,000 more commit- 
ted suicide after they returned 
home. These are a few of the 
statistics that prompted Dan 
Lohaus to make When I Came 
Home, a documentary about 
homeless war veterans living in 
the U.S. These are also a few of 
the statistics Lohaus highlighted 
while discussing his film on 
"DocStock," a new cable-access 
TV show that profiles documen- 
taries-in-progress and their 
directors. 

Interspersing trailers with 
interviews, "DocStock" features 
films in various stages of develop- 
ment, from pre-production to 
post. The show airs on Plum 
TV — a network serving viewers 
in Aspen, Vail, Nantucket, 
Martha's Vineyard, and the 
Hamptons. According to 
"DocStock" executive producer 



Jage Toba, Plum's well-to-do 
audience partially inspired the 
show's creation. 

"I wanted to get documentary 
filmmakers' work out there," says 
Toba, who used to make histori- 
cal documentaries for Channel 4 
in the UK. "And since Plum's 
audience includes people in the 
film business and the arts, I 
thought I could get the word out 
to influential people." Toba also 
figured he could air the trailers 
documentary filmmakers put 
together in the early stages of 
their projects. 

After Plum gave Toba the 
green light, he asked Rebecca 
Carroll, The Independents editor- 
at-large, to host the show. She 
accepted, and, in December 
2005, the pilot aired. 

That first episode featured 
Gideon Gold's Misery Loves 
Company, which follows an inva- 
sive and eccentric New York- 
based street photographer, and 
Neil Davenport's King of 
Laughter, a look at the rise of 
laughter clubs in India, Europe, 



and North America. Subsequent 
episodes have profiled films that 
focus on subcultures such as syn- 
chronized swimming and male 
hula dancers as well as more serious 
issues such as South African street 
children and the socioeconomics 
of the Georgia lotto system. 

Although the primary goal of 
"DocStock" is to publicize 



independent documentaries-in- 
progress (Toba is also developing a 
sister show called FilmStock pro- 
filing features-in-progress), it also 
focuses on how documentaries are 
made and why. According to 
"DocStock" assistant producer 
Sasha Sagan, "One of the most fas- 
cinating things about the show is 
learning how filmmakers came to 
certain topics." 

Tim Nackashi and Crystal 
Wooten's Under The Spell, fea- 
tured in the third episode of 
"DocStock," began when 
Wooten filmed fantasy card 
game tournaments in Atlanta. At 
a gamer hangout called The War 
Room, someone suggested she 
check out a Live-Action Role- 
Playing (LARP) event, sort of a 
physical incarnation of 

Dungeons & Dragons where 
players create characters with 
fantastical strengths, weaknesses, 
and personality traits. LARPers, 
as players are called, also create 
their own costumes, tend to stay 




8 The Independent I May/June 2006 




in character during entire events, 
and are known throughout the 
LARP community as their char- 
acters rather than themselves. 

"At the first event we attend- 
ed," says Nackashi, "we were 
immediately entranced by the 
social dynamics of the game and 
the emotional investment that 
goes into creating a character. It 
seemed like people wore their 
hopes and dreams on their 
sleeves." 

"Sleeves," Nackashi adds, 
"made of chain mail." 

Lohaus' When I Came Home 
began as a documentary about 
homeless Vietnam vets but ended 
up focusing on homeless Iraqi 
vets and eventually became about 
history repeating itself as the 
number of homeless Iraqi vets 
rose from just a handful at the 
beginning of his shoot to over 
500 one year later. 

In March, two months after 
Lohaus appeared on "DocStock," 
When I Came Home was accepted 
by the Tribeca Film Festival, and 
though Toba admits "DocStock" 
had "no direct impact" on the 
film's acceptance, he says, "It cer- 
tainly didn't hurt." 



If you have a documentary project 
in progress and are interested in 
appearing on "DocStock, " contact: 
Sasha Sagan, Plum TV, 419 
Lafayette 7th Floor, New York, NY 
10003. For more information, check 
out www.plumtv. com/shows/docstock 

Films on Wheels 

By Erica Berenstein 

r~all Bike Jousting, Track 
I Bikes, BMX, Alleycats, 
Critical Mass, Bike Polo, Cycling 
to Recumbents... we've probably 
either ridden or screened it," is 
the motto for the Bicycle Film 
Festival, which screens features 
and shorts that tap into the grow- 
ing urban bike culture. Last year's 
festival attracted over 17,000 
people, and 40,000 people are 
expected at this year's fest, which 
takes place in 10 cities starting in 
New York City in May. 

In addition to providing com- 
plimentary valet parking... for 
your bicycle, the festival, which 
began in 2001, attracts a range of 
musical and film talent from 
Blonde Redhead to Jonas Mekas, 
and hosts block parties and 
parades to channel the enthusi- 
asm surrounding the screenings 



of the bicycle-themed films. The 
launch party will include a cele- 
bration of Pedal, a book of photos 
by Peter Sutherland. 

Over the past year, submis- 
sions have poured in from around 
the world — from bike-lovers and 
film-lovers alike. "We've created a 
whole subculture," says Festival 
Director Brendt Barbur, excitedly 
explaining that "we don't kid our- 
selves, we're not Sundance... 
we're not in the film industry, 
were not in the bike industry, and 
people from both love it." He 
explains that increasingly accessi- 
ble technology has made it possi- 
ble for people who have little to 
no filmmaking background to 
make films that express their pas- 
sion for this sport. 

Bicycling has long been used 
as a tool in clean-air campaigns 
and has recently been used for 
other activist causes, as well. For 
example, during the Republican 
National Convention in New 
York City, Bikes Against Bush, a 
project started by emerging-tech- 
nology artist and political activist 
Joshua Kinberg, began using Wi- 
Fi-enabled bicycles to fight the 
incumbent. While the Bicycle 
Film Festival is not overtly politi- 



cal, it is a chance for people to do 
more than send a $100 check to 
the Sierra Club, says Barbur. 
"Riding a bike is an environmen- 
tal act," he insists. 

From May 10th through May 
14th in New York City. Take the 
Second Avenue bike lane to 
Anthology Film Archives in the 
East Village at 32 Second Avenue 
at 2nd Street for the New York pre- 
mier ofB.I.K.E., a film about the 
Black Label Bike Club, as well as 
other films that might inspire you 
to find a new way to get to work. 

DVD, 

Meet Magazine 

By Katherine Dykstra 



WH0LPHIN 




What do you get when you 
mix a whale and a dol- 
phin? A wholphin (that's a fact). 
What about a magazine and a 
DVD? Same thing. 

Wholphin, a quarterly DVD of 
short films that is meant to be 
watched like a magazine is read — 
in multiple sittings — is one new 
effort to keep good shorts from 
slipping into obscurity. 

"I went to Sundance in 2003 
and saw a bunch of films and 
some of the shorts were the best 
things there, and they just disap- 
peared," says Brent Holf, 
Wholphins editor. "I was like, 
'Wow, how many of these are out 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 9 



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there and just get lost?'" 

Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is 
most of them. Though not if Hoff can 
help it. 

Produced by the collective that publish- 
es the literary magazines The Believer and 
McSweenys, Wholphiris debut issue is com- 
prised of 1 2 films that range from oddball 
to affecting. The lynchpin of which is a 13- 
minute documentation of a day in the life 
of Al Gore. The Al Gore Documentary was 
made by Spike Jonze, before the election of 
2000, and Hoff believes that if it had been 
widely seen, America might now be under 
different leadership. 

"OK, I might have overstated the case a 
little [in the liner notes], but you're going 
into a highly contested campaign and the 
big problem is that [Gore] is a stiff suit, 
not really a person," says Hoff. "But then 
you have a film that shows that, yeah he's 
stiff, but he's a good guy who cares about 
his family, who's the real thing. And it's 
made by a respected filmmaker, but it 
doesn't get seen. It certainly wouldn't have 
hurt his chances." 

Though not all of the films showcased 
in Wholphin have the element of squan- 
dered potential impact like Jonze's did, 
they all are worth a look. Included are a 
four-minute short written by Miranda July 
and starring John C. Reilly, an animated 
film about the death of a hen, and a 
Turkish sitcom subtitled verbatim from the 
original and then five more times by other 
writers who re-imagined the plot and dia- 
logue. 

Future issues will include pieces by 
Steven Soderbergh, a short from the writ- 
ers who created "Freaks and Geeks," and a 
crying competition. There are no rules. 

"A guy singing 'Stairway to Heaven' 
backwards trips my trigger, a beautiful lit- 
erary film like The Big Empty trips my trig- 
ger. Iranian animation trips my trigger," 
says Hoff. "I want there to be things like 
that, that don't ever fit into the wacky viral 
world of the internet." ~k 



10 The Independent I May/June 2006 








Ask the Documentary Doctor 




By Fernanda Rossi 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

My current film is doing really well. Can I use the 
hype to finance my next project even if I don't know what 
it is yet? And how soon should I start that process? 

What a great problem to have! If you are the dozen-ideas- 
a-minute type, by all means get ready to answer the "What's 
next?" question. Have a verbal pitch ready and, if possible, 
some physical materials to hand out as well. But be careful 
not to allow your enthusiasm for the new project overshad- 
ow the current one — especially if you don't yet have a signed 
deal for the current one. 

If you don't have a second project in the pipeline, don't 
worry. The void could be the result of creative exhaustion or 
the recent overwhelming attention. For some, wearing the 
business hat every day kills the creative side. Others don't 
even consider this until a few years later when they realize the 
party is over and they find themselves empty-handed. 

In addition, documentary topics are more likely to be 
happened upon than to be forced out of your head with 
sheer willpower. Even writers who have the luxury of invent- 
ing stories have trouble finding inspiration, and it's harder 
for doc-makers who can't just make things up but have to 




find them in real life. 

It's important to 
remember, however, 
that good films leave a 
comet tail. Press clips, 
among other things, are 
good indicators to 
prospective funders of 
your past glory. You 
shouldn't be afraid of a 
temporary creative vac- 
uum, but when indus- 
try people or audience members ask, "What's next?" it's 
always better to answer than to appear stuck or uninspired. 
Tell them about the next step for the distribution of your 
current film or rattle off some topics you might be interest- 
ed in for future docs. Who knows, once you put the word 
out, your next film might come knocking at your door. 

Dear Doc Doctor: 

Since I decided on the subject of my next film, it sud- 
denly seems like a lot of people are working on similar 
ideas. Does it make more business sense to drop it and 



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look for something else? 

That's good news. It means your selec- 
tive perception is in sync with market 
needs. And don't for a moment think that 
no two filmmakers could possibly be work- 
ing on similar topics. As a grant panelist, I 
was shocked to see how even the most 
obscure topics came up in pairs and even 
trios! 

Even if you are in a category all your 
own, it doesn't guarantee you an audience. 
Funders, distributors, and festival directors 
have their own agendas and tastes. They 
won't settle for a film they don't like just 
because there is nothing else on the topic. 
Plus, the clones are no reason to quit your 
documentary. Think about how many 
films there are on hip-hop, HIV/AIDS, 
9/11, Iraq — just to name a few. 

Your first reaction might be to distance 
yourself from those making films like 
yours. Viewing the work of your perceived 
competitors can be painful — not to men- 
tion skew your analysis of what you are 
watching and making. But for many, the 
dilemma becomes: Do I watch theirs and 
risk being influenced by it, or not watch it 
and be ignorant of it? In many cases you 
won't even have this opportunity — you'll 
read about a film but have no access to it. 
Then your imagination can run wild mak- 
ing up all kinds of scenarios. An imagined 
competitor might even be worse than the 
real thing. 

The bottom line is that you should try 
to find out about all the concurrent and 
past projects that touch even tangentially 
on your topic. It's better you find out about 
the other films on your own, rather than be 
told by someone you are pitching (which 
makes it look like you haven't done your 
homework.) Your funders will want to 
know — and sometimes will already 
know — what else is out there and how your 
film will be different. In the end, there isn't 
much you can do about similar projects, 
other than keeping yourself informed. * 



Fernanda Rossi, a filmmaker and story 
consultant, is the author of Trailer 
Mechanics: A Guide to Making Your 
Documentary Fundraising Trailer. 



jgaca 



12 The Independent I May/June 2006 




Georgia Lee sheds light on the average American family 



By Sarah Coleman 



Picture an American family living in the 
suburbs of Connecticut. Dad, newly 
retired, is suffering bouts of depression; 
Mom is a cheerfully oblivious homemaker. 
There are three daughters: an over-achieving 
businesswoman, a shy doctor-in-training, and 
a high school senior with sociopathic tenden- 
cies. Increasingly distant from one another 
emotionally, each family member struggles to 
establish an identity and find meaning in life. 
Chances are, in your mind's eye, that fam- 
ily is WASP, or at least Caucasian — more John 
Cheever than say, Amy Tan. But watch 
Georgia Lee's debut feature Red Doors, to be 
released next summer, and that perception 
might change. Lee's film about a Chinese- 
American family bypasses the typical first- 



generation, culture-clash immigrant story — the 
Wongs are nothing if not typical middle-class 
suburbanites who could match any typical 
WASP family, dysfunction for dysfunction. 

"I wanted the film to be about these people 
who are struggling to communicate with their 
family, struggling with the trials and tribula- 
tions of life," says Lee while munching on a 
chicken and avocado salad at Edgar's Cafe in 
her neighborhood, Manhattan's Upper West 
Side. She flips her long, glossy hair over one 
shoulder. "Being Asian-American is part of 
it," she says, "but it's not the whole story." 

The whole story is, in fact, infinitely more 
complicated. In Red Doors, middle sister Julie 
embarks on a love affair with another woman, 
while youngest sister Katie flirts with a neigh- 



bor boy by exchanging "love tokens" in the 
form of dead rodents, flaming animal feces, 
and small explosives. Perhaps most affectingly, 
father Ed embarks on a series of botched sui- 
cide attempts then flees home for a Buddhist 
monastery shaking the family up and forcing 
them to take stock of their own lives. 

Red Doors is a story of a family that's taken 
a wrong turn, yet the love the characters have 
for each other — despite their lack oi true 
communication — is poignant. Lee says that's 
how it was for her own family for a time. 
"We'd get together once a month and have 
dinner, and we'd talk, but we weren't really 
connecting. You know, people are talking but 
nobody's really listening. And nobody knows 
what the other person's life is like." 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 13 



"Being Asian-American 
is part of it," says Lee. 
"But it's not the whole story." 



Given its subtle, bittersweet script and 
wonderful ensemble acting, it's not surprising 
that Red Doors has been a hit on the festival 
circuit. It picked up, among other awards, the 
Best Narrative Feature prize at the 2005 
Tribeca Film Festival. Not bad for a film that 
was made for under $200,000 and whose 
main location was Lee's parents' house. Lee is 
clearly overjoyed. "When we started making 
this movie, we thought that if it got accepted 
by one festival, we'd be thrilled," she says. 

"We" is Lee and her two co-producers, Jane 
Chen and Mia Riverton. The three met at 
Harvard, where Lee worked for Chen at the 
university's daily paper, the Crimson. As well 
as sharing Asian backgrounds (Riverton is a 
hapa, or half- Asian), these women share a 
desire to break the mold and resist stereo- 
types. The fact that their production compa- 
ny, Blanc de Chine, takes its name from a 
form of Chinese porcelain is meant ironically. 
"Obviously, we're not delicate little flowers," 
says Lee with a smile. True enough: Though 
barely 30, she emanates poise and confidence. 
Loud, staccato bursts of laughter punctuate 
her speech, showing a refreshing ability not to 
take herself too seriously. 

Before Red Doors secured a deal for a the- 
atrical release, CBS and Paramount Network 
TV commissioned Lee, Chen, and Riverton 
to write a pilot for a one-hour television 
drama based on the movie. Currently, the 
project is being held, but Lee hopes that the 
deal indicates a growing openness to Asian 
stories in Hollywood. "Frankly we were 
thrilled that they were even open to the idea 
of an Asian-American family on prime-time 
television," she says. 

Ultimately, with all due credit to Chen and 



Riverton, Red Doors is Lee's movie. Not only 
was it shot in her childhood home and based 
to a certain extent on her family (her youngest 
sister Kathy even plays the role of Katie, the 
youngest Wong sister), it also features authen- 
tic 1980s home video of Lee and her sisters. 
Ed, the father in the movie, watches this home 
video to remind himself of happier times when 
his girls were innocent youngsters doing 
Chinese folk dances and ice-skating turns. 

"Yeah, I hated all of that," Lee laughs, 
referring to the ballet, tap, jazz, and Chinese 
folk dancing her mother insisted she learn as a 
child. "When you're forced to do something, 
you rebel against it. But its one of those 
things you appreciate when you grow up." 

In the Lee household, there was a clear line 
between artistic pursuits and future careers, 
which Lee says is fairly typical of Asian- 
American culture. She sums it up this way: 
"You can learn piano, but you should never 
become a pianist; you can study ballet, but 
you should never think of going to Julliard. 
You should of course do all of those things 
because they'll help you get in to a good col- 
lege where you can become a doctor or 
lawyer." 

In her darkly hilarious 2001 short Educated, 
Lee examines the pressure Asian parents put on 
their children to be high achievers. In the film, 
immigrant Chinese mothers hold their teenage 
sons and daughters on actual leashes and force 
them to perform piano concertos or recite their 
SAT scores. The film's imagery is surreal, but 
the level of control symbolized by the leashes is 
not far off the mark, says Lee. "It's hard to 
explain. My father chose all my courses at 
Harvard, which I thought was totally normal." 

Obviously, then, being a filmmaker wasn't 




going to cut it for Lee's parents. So, being "a 
good little Asian girl," she says, she went to 
Harvard to study biochemistry, then worked 
for the prestigious management consultancy 
McKinsey & Company. One summer, she 
took a leave of absence from work to take a 
crash course in filmmaking at NYU. "It 
changed my life," she says simply. "I'd hate 
being in the McKinsey office any time past 
nine o'clock, but I'd stay in the editing room 
until four or five in the morning and not 
know what time it was. You just know when 
you fall in love, right?" 

One of the shorts she made that summer, 
The Big Dish, about the fallout from China's 
1989 crackdown on student dissidents in 
Tiananmen Square, was inspired by an early 
Martin Scorsese short about Vietnam. Her 
professor said she should send it to Scorsese 



14 The Independent I May/June 2006 




The ladies of the Wong family (L to R) Kathy Shao-Lin, Freda Foh Shen, Jaqueline Kim, 
Elaine Kao discover that dad is missing. 



so, not knowing any better, Lee stuck it in the 
mail to the director's fan club. Five months 
later, she was working on a cost-cutting study 
in Florida when she picked up a message on 
her voicemail: "Marty watched your short. He 
loved it, and he'd like to meet you." 

The meeting led to what Lee calls "the 
most amazing film school anyone could ever 
have": a chance to be Scorsese's apprentice on 
the Rome set of Gangs of New York. "I literal- 
ly just followed him around and filled up 
dozens of notebooks with sketches and 
notes," she says. 

After that, it was only a matter of time 
before she quit her job, though her escape 
route wasn't immediately clear. Her mother 
Elsie was ill, and begged Lee to go to Harvard 
Business School — so she did. After one semes- 
ter, she'd had enough. "I realized I'm ready to 



make a feature. Maybe nothing will come of 
it, but I have this story I want to tell and I'm 
just going to do it." She took a leave of 
absence from business school and moved in 
with Riverton, who was working as a televi- 
sion producer in Hollywood. Chen came on 
board, and the three started raising money for 
Red Doors as Lee typed out the screenplay in 
Riverton's kitchen. Five months later, they 
were in production with family and friends 
kicking in everything from cameos to craft 
services. 

Hers is a miserable-riches to happy-rags 
story (though one suspects riches are not too 
far off for Lee), but the happiness is tinged 
with more complex emotions. First, there was 
the death of Lee's mother from cancer while 
Red Doors was in post-production. Before she 
died, Elsie Lee got to see a rough cut of the 



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Sam (Jaqueline Kim) goes for a walk with her father (Tzi Ma) and ends up at a monastary 



movie. ("She thought it was a horror film 
because the lesbian love story scared her so 
much," laughs Lee). But she didn't live long 
enough to witness the film's success. "I just 
wish she knew that it was going to be ok and 
that I'm not going to end up as a bag lady. 
Lee sighs. 

Then, after Red Doors was completed, 
another event knocked Lee sideways. The 
forum section on the film's web site started 
filling up with assaults, allegedly from Asian 
men, who were angry that the film's Asian 
females are romantically involved with 
Caucasians. Pressed for details, Lee blushes 
furiously. "I'm so embarrassed. We were 
called every name you could be called. The 
message basically was, 'Georgia, why don't 
you just stab your Asian brothers in the 
back?'" 



Though she laughs it off as the "Angry 
Asian Male" syndrome, Lee is clearly hurt that 
she was attacked by her own community. "I 
understand their grievances," she says. "We're 
on the same team. I think Asian-American 
men are emasculated in the media and Asian- 
American women are fetishized. But I don't 
think my film does either one of those 
things!" 

In fact, she says, she had originally cast 
Asian men in two of the love interest roles but 
both dropped out at the last minute. "I had to 
recast really quickly. I just cast the actors I 
thought would fit those roles the best, be they 
Asian, white, African-American, or whatever." 
She goes on to point out that at the end of the 
movie, only one of the sisters actually ends up 
with a white guy. "So sue us!" she says, rolling 
her eyes. 



The casting choices might have come as a 
result of circumstance, but they also illustrate 
Lee's philosophy about the film — and life in 
general — namely, that her characters' human 
qualities are more important than race, reli- 
gion, or sexuality. Her next project, 
Forbidden City, is a film noir, and she has 
hope that other Asian-American directors 
will start to delve into genre films without 
feeling they have to represent the entire com- 
munity. "I really, sincerely believe that we will 
transcend gender, racial, and religious stereo- 
types when people start to look at people first 
and foremost as human beings," she says. 
"What's your soul like? Your spirit? To me, 
that's when we've reached some meaningful 
level of human understanding." ~k 



16 The Independent I May/June 2006 





ii 

W *• 



LARRY CLARK 

By Katherine Dykstra 

Larry Clark's films are shocking. There's Kids, about drug-using, AIDS-carrying, 
sexually active Manhattan teenagers; Bully, the true story of a group of teens who 
murder their tormentor; and Ken Park, which was so sexually explicit, it was never 
released in the U.S. These films are shocking because they capture a reality most people 

don't want to know exists. 

Wassup Rockers, Clark's newest film, about teenage thrasher-rock-loving Latino 

skateboarders from South Central, LA, is just as shocking as his previous undertakings. 

And that shock is also born of reality — but with very different results. While it's difficult 

to empathize with the characters from Kids and Bully, no matter how "real" they may be, 

Wassup Rockers' stuttering dialogues and patient camera-work make it impossible not to 

be moved. The sheer intimacy of Clark's portrayal of this rowdy group of kids — who 

want to be just that... kids — is what's unexpected. 

May/June 2006 I The Independent 17 




Katherine Dykstra: I saw Wassup Rockers, 
I guess over a month ago now, and I loved 
it. I thought it was wonderful. I just fell 
in love with those kids. 

Larry Clark: Yeah, the kids are quite charm- 
ing, aren't they? They're quite appealing I 
should say. 

KD: I read that you sought them out ini- 
tially to photograph them. 

LC: My last film, Ken Park, was opening in 
Paris, and a magazine, Rebel magazine, want- 
ed me to make some photographs for them, 
and it seemed to be good press for Ken Park. 
So I came out to California with Tiffany 
Limos, the actress in Ken Park, and I was 
going to photograph her with some of the 
actors from Ken Park, but they weren't 
around. So I said, 'Well, we'll just go out and 
find some skaters from the street.' And we 



were driving around, and we went down to 
Venice Beach and met Porky and Kiko. So it 
was like serendipity. I ended up photograph- 
ing them for four days with Tiffany. When 1 
went back to the magazine to give them to 
them a couple months later, I started think- 
ing about a film about them. 

KD: And what do you think the kids 
thought about that? 

LC: I think that it was probably a little hard 
to believe. I ended up hanging out with 
them for over a year. When I took the maga- 
zine back to them, they wanted to go skating 
again, of course, so I took them skating. And 
then the next Saturday at 9 o'clock, they 
called me, and they said, 'Where are you? 
We're waiting to go skating.' So I got up, and 
I went out, and I took them skating all day, 
and then fed them, and then it kind of 
became our Saturdays. 



KD: Did you skate with them? 

LC: I learned how to skate before I made 
Kids. We're talking about '89, '90, '91.1 
skated for quite a while, but I kind of 
retired. My knees are pretty much shot. And 
going around with these kids before we made 
the movie, I was climbing over fences, and I 
jumped off roofs a couple of times. And you 
know, 60-year-old guys shouldn't be jumping 
off roofs, which I found out. 

KD: Sounds like fun though. 

LC: I was going out there and picking them 
up, sometimes 12 kids. 1 had a little 1995 
Toyota Camry and just stuffed with these 
Latino kids and this old white guy driving 
them around. Sometimes there would be way 
more kids than I could possibly get into the 
car. And so one day they said, 'Well, we'll 
trunk it.' And I said, 'What do you mean, 



18 The Independent I May/June 2006 



i \Wm If 




•*■ * • 




you'll trunk it?' And they said, 'We'll get in 
the trunk.' And I said, Are you crazy?' So I 
opened the trunk and like three kids got in 
there. They were perfectly happy to ride in 
the trunk, but I'd be driving, and I would 
think, 'What if I get stopped and the cops 
open the trunk and there are three more 
kids in the trunk? This is going to be weird.' 

KD: There's a scene in the film where 
they get in the trunk, is that where that 
came from? 

LC: That's where it came from. 

KD: Is that how you write your movies? 

LC: That's how Kids happened. For my first 
film, I wanted to make a movie about con- 
temporary teenagers. And I started hanging 
out with skateboarders and all the ideas for 
that film came from reality, from things I'd 



seen happen and stories I knew to be true 
and this film was like that too. This is kind 
of about kids, 1 1 years later. 

KD: Those kids from Kids are different 
from the kids in Rockers in so many ways. 

LC: Absolutely. Kids was about a specific 
group of downtown kids in New York City, 
street kids in New York City, and this is 
about Latino kids in the ghetto in South 
Central Los Angeles, where it's all gang 
bangers and gang-infested neighborhoods 
and very dangerous place to live and so it's 
different. 

KD: But that's a little bit counterintuitive 
because I would think that the South 
Central kids would be hard, but they were 
so soft and sweet. 

LC: They don't want to be gang bangers; 
they're just kids. There's lots and lots of kids 
in the ghetto that don't want to join gangs 
and you just don't really hear about those 
kids. One reason to make this film is that 
you never see these kids in film. I said, 'Well 
that's a good enough reason.' I wanted you 
to meet them. 

KD: The first half was taken from their 
lives... 

LC: The first half I'm really trying to recreate 
things that have happened. This kid that all 
of us knew named Creeper, that was always 
hanging out around Kiko's house, got killed. 
Some gang bangers just drove by and saw 
him and blew him away, shot him 9 times. 
And a couple days later we went over to the 
shrine and lit a candle and they made the 
sign of the cross and said a little prayer. That 
actually happened, so I put that in the film 
at the last minute and kind of opened the 
film with that because it really shows you 
how dangerous it is for these kids just to get 
up and walk down the street to go to school 
a few blocks away. 

KD: But then suddenly the film changes... 
there's the Janice Dickenson character and 
the Hollywood-type guy who was throw- 
ing the party that the kids crashed... 

LC: Fuck with the white people, [laughing] I 



just started having fun. I said, 'You know 
some Paris Hilton-type girls, who just want 
to fuck hot boys, will see them, and then 
they'll get to Beverly Hills. And then the 
girls' boyfriends will come, and then there 
will be a fight and they'll have to run and 
they'll jump a fence and then they're in 
someone's backyard in Beverly Hills, who are 
they going to meet there?' And so then I just 
started goofing on it and having fun. And I 
said, 'Well I bet Charlton Heston has been 
sitting out there for 25 years in his backyard 
with a rifle waiting for a person to come and 
get caught as a trespasser and shoot him.' 
That's how that started. I just started goof- 
ing, because I don't really want to make doc- 
umentaries. 

KD: Why aren't you interested in docu- 
mentary? 

LC: I want to make real movies. 

KD: So a documentary isn't a real movie? 

LC: Ah, I'm just joking; I want to make fea- 
tures. 

KD: My absolute favorite scene is the one 
with Kiko and the girl on the bed. 

LC: That is just a magical scene. When we 
were filming it, I was thinking, 'This is my 
movie. This is what I'm trying to do.' 

KD: It was so intimate, it was almost hard 
to watch. 

LC: My job as a director was being able to 
get Kiko in a situation where he was com- 
fortable enough to talk about his life that 
way. He had had those conversations with 
me, one-on-one, very personal, and I wanted 
somehow to recreate that. I told [the actress 
that played Nikki] that I wanted her to draw 
it out of him and to ask questions, and I told 
him I wanted him to tell her about his life. 
The big secret was having them make eye 
contact and not break the eye contact, and 
by doing that after a while it was like there 
were no cameras and there was no one else 
there and they really had this conversation. 

KD: Would you talk about working with 
nonactors? That's kind of your style. 



lay/June 2006 I The Independent 19 




LC: With good actors like the actors in 
Bully, you can ask them to do something 
and they just do it. Working with nonactors, 
it's very, very difficult. It's successful in my 
films because I really get to know the people, 
and I know what I think they can do, and 
they know me, and they trust me, and they 
know what I'm trying to do. And especially 
this time was difficult because I'm working 
with very young, we're talking 14-, 15-, 16- 
year-old kids, who are ghetto kids, who's 
world is basically South Central. Of course 
they get out a bit, but they never knew any 
white people before. They had a few teachers 
in school who were white, but outside of 
school they just don't have contact with 
white people. These kids are pretty wild too, 
they have this energy and this zest for life. 
Kids live in the moment generally, but these 
kids really live in the moment. To all the 
sudden say, I'm going to make you movie 
stars.' It just wasn't going to work to say 
'Ok, come in, sit down, and be quiet while 
we get everything ready... now get up and be 
yourself. Their process was to just be them- 
selves the whole time. They were wild. They 
were themselves. They were difficult all the 
time. But that was their process, which I 
understood. It was very, very difficult for the 
crew. I pretty much lost my camera crew at 
one point, who just kind of didn't get it after 
a while, and couldn't deal with the kids. 

KD: Literally? 



LC: No, no, they were still there, but I was 
kind of dragging them along. I was deter- 
mined to make this work. I don't think any- 
body knew what I was doing. I think they 
started looking at it as 'Larry's folly' after a 
while. And now... some of the people who 
were working on the film have seen it, and 
they called me, and they said, 'We had no 
idea what you were doing; this is really 
great.' They didn't have a clue to the kind of 
film I was making, I don't think. 

KD: Were you confident the whole time? 

LC: Yes. 

KD: You could see it? 

LC: Yes, it was just difficult. I think the rea- 
son why I'm able to do difficult things like 
Wassup Rockers or Kids is because I have a 
very clear vision. You know I've been a visual 
artist for 44 years, and I know what I want it 
to look like, and I know the kids so well, I 
know what I need them to do and how I 
want to present them. But if I didn't have 
chat, it just would have been a mess. 

KD: How do you get your movies made? 

LC: It's very difficult. People think that since 
I've had successful films that it must be easy 
to get the money. But it's never easy to get 
the money. I think that a lot of people are 



afraid of what I'm going to do. I'm a final 
cut director. No one can change my films. 
And that's unusual. I've never sold out. I've 
certainly been offered a lot of money to 
make a studio film, to make a Hollywood 
film. But you sell out, you give up final cut 
and then they can take your film and they 
can do what they want to with it. And I 
can't do that. 

KD: Can you talk about controversy? 
Your films are kind of notoriously 
controversial. 

LC: Well, that's not my fault. I'm trying to 
create a reality. Well, Wassup Rockers, the last 
half is pretty crazy, but generally I'm trying 
to create a reality that makes sense. People 
are afraid of reality. When I made Kids, 
come on, people went crazy. Saying, 'This 
isn't right. This is Larry's fantasy. This isn't 
what it's like.' And then all the kids said, 
'What's the big deal? This is just what it's 
like.' It's a secret world that I was showing 
you. And after Kids came out, all anyone has 
to do is read the papers over the next few 
years and I was right on, I was just early. 
And plus Hollywood is... there's been films 
made with all of these subjects covered, but 
they make a joke out of it. They make these 
films and they can have sex and drugs and 
whatever you want to do. But if you make a 
joke out of it, it's ok. But if you do it seri- 
ously, oh my god, some people get upset. ~k 



20 The Independent I May/June 2006 




One-two | 

punch 



Helen Mirren is one tough mother 



From script to screen, Shadowboxer\ wild ride 



By Lee Daniels 

I thought that making Monster's Ball was 
rough. I vowed upon wrapping that film 
that I would never make another. After the 
accolades and success of that film, I was 
offered tons of projects from studios for lots of 
money (which I really could have used.) But 
all of them were jokes: Who's My Baby's Cousin's 
Daddy, Leprechauns From the Hood (really). I 
felt that as a black filmmaker, my sophomore 
attempt at film should be just as interesting as 



my first; that I should not sell out. 

Then Sherry Lansing, chair of the 
Paramount Motion Picture group, rang and 
asked what I wanted to do next. She is such a 
class act. Upon our meeting, I spoke of my 
passion for Shadowboxer. Written by William 
Lipz, it's the story of Mickey, an abused kid 
who ends up killing folks for a living and yet 
somehow we feel sorry for him. She personal- 
ly drove me in her golf cart to the head of her 



classics division, Ruth Vitale. Ruth had issues 
with the third act but, regardless, greenlit it. 

At first Anjelica Huston was attached. My 
tespect for Anjelica is off the Richter scale. 
She seemed perfect to play the role of Rose, 
Mickey's mother, a woman who is dying of 
cancer, a contract killer in love with her step- 
son. Even though I thought she'd sorta been 
there done that in The Grifiers, the role was 
still a tour de force for any actress in her age 

May/June 2006 I The Independent 21 




Leading the way: Lee Daniels coaches Helen Mirren on the set of Shadowboxer. 



range, and Id figured shed bite. She did! 
Soon after, however, a whole range of conflicts 
arose, and I decided that I would rather walk 
away than to compromise my vision for the 
film. In my gut, I knew that Shadowboxer 
would be back. Don't ask me why, but I did. 
I went back to the drawing board to try 
and find a film of substance, hence The 
Woodsman. The process of begging people to 
invest in a movie about a pedophile was 
beyond humiliating. And yet again, acco- 
lades. With accolades, your balls grow. 
Accolades put hair on your chest. Accolades 
can even make you think you can direct. I was 
looking for something edgy, something raw. 
In other words, something me. On our very 



last day of shooting The Woodsman, writers 
Nicole Kassell and Steven Fechter rang to tell 
me that Shadowboxer had gone bye-bye at 
Paramount Classics. Second to my kids arriv- 
ing into this world, it was the happiest day of 
my life! 

Shadowboxer was a film I originally set out 
to produce. What I love most about produc- 
ing is giving first-time directors a chance, a 
voice. With Shadowboxer, I decided to give 
myself that chance. 

I called the director Oskar Roehler in 
Berlin. He had been attached at one point to 
the film, and is also a friend. I asked if he 
thought I could direct. He said yes. I believed 
him... well, sort of. If anything, Id use this 



directing thing as an exercise for how to work 
better with my directors. I figured if I could 
just step into their frame of mind it'd make 
me a better producer. Again, I faced the gruel- 
ing task of raising cash for a controversial 
film — this time about a mother and stepson 
who are lovers and contract killers. 

Even as I write this, I think I am insane. I 
loved the concept, the idea, the premise. The 
abuse in this film was what struck the biggest 
chord with me. I was scared because it seemed 
too close to home. But I am at my best work- 
ing from fear. I began calling the studios and 
as expected: pass, pass, pass. I wasn't bothered 
or deterred because that has always been my 
experience with studios. I walk in, pitch, and 



22 The Independent I May/June 2006 



Nonfiction nirvana" variety 



SILVERDOCS 

AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival 

june 13-18, 2006 I Life: Now Playing 

SILVER SPRING, MD, USA 




OFFICIAL SPONSORS 



More info: 
Conference@SILVERDOCS.com 

SILVERDOCS.com 




they look at me like my dad used to when 
I'd tell him things like "I wanna be a ballet 
dancer when I grow up." Being made to feel 
odd has been a life experience for me. It's 
almost my comfort zone. 

Anyway, I was blessed again by a group 
of private investors that gave me money for 
my baby. They didn't really believe in the 
story. They believed in me. I talked them 
into giving me half of my budget. I'd raise 
the rest later, and start casting and crewing 
up immediately — with a firm start date. 
Fuck a bond. We'd worry about those mat- 
ters later. 

What gave me any credence as a director? 
If I were an agent I don't think I'd let me 
direct either. I forgot to mention that's what 
gotten me here. I spent 20 years trying to 
find actors work — as a talent manager... 
don't ask. What I did learn from those years 
was how a set worked; I spent my life on sets 
around the world with some of the greatest 
filmmakers of our time. 

For the mother role, I was floored that 
Helen Mirren wanted to take a chance with 
me. I have been obsessed with Helen Mirren 
since forever. I figured it'd be more interest- 
ing if someone like Cuba Gooding Jr. was 
cast, so that the whole interracial mother- 
son thing took us into another world. He 
has been my friend for 100 years and 
jumped on. I cast Mo'Nique in the role of 
Precious. The role was written as a 23-year- 
old white model chick. Her lover is the 
genius Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Macy Gray 
plays a nymphomaniac — funny as hell. 
With all of my characters, I cast against type 
because I wanted to show the world that 
people are more diverse than the cookie-cut- 
ter images that mainstream media spit out. 

In life we unknowingly cross paths with 
many people who have horrible secrets. This 
story gives life to their existence. I was for- 
tunate to have David Mullen shoot. Lisa 
Cortes, my best friend, produced. I conned 
Vivienne Westwood into costuming. Wow. 
But even with all these amazing talents, this 
was the most difficult experience I have ever 
taken on. As I think back, I don't know that 
I would do this again. The hardest part was 
raising money at night while shooting dur- 
ing the day. I was away from my kids for 
more than a year. Still, out of a hard labor 
came my new kid, Shadoivboxer. And I love 
him. "fr 



24 The Independent I May 



SHOW US YOUR SHORTS 




The men behind 




VouAreTV: From left, Steve Cordova, David Dundas, aind Jesse Sanchez 




The internet gives short films a whole new audience 



BY ERICA BERENSTEIN 



"I don't know how big of a historian you are," begins David 
Dundas, one of the founders of YouAreTV, a video hosting site 
launched at the beginning of this year. "But this whole technology 
thing is kind of equivalent to when the printing press came out." 

A printing press of sorts, indeed. Websites that provide video down- 
load and streaming services allow filmmakers, proud parents, essential- 
ly anyone with a video camera, webcam, or video-enabled cell phone 
to make their content available online for free. The possibilities for 
short-filmmakers are especially enticing. But the proliferation of web- 
sites has not only provided short filmmakers with new, increasingly 
accessible platforms for their work, it has fostered an explosion of 
quantity. In keeping with the short-film-as-calling-card model, some 
filmmakers, animators, and amateurs are using the web to promote 
their work. Many more are creating content specifically for online pres- 



entation, an enormously popular category often called "user-generated" 
content. Short films with high production value and meticulously 
crafted scripts that used to be condemned to the shelf after a few festi- 
vals have populated the web, often competing for viewers with funny, 
crass, and no-budget shorts like The MySpace Movie, (www.davi- 
dlehre.com/myspace/play.htm). Much of the traffic that passes through 
video hosting sites like YouTube.com and video.google.com, as well as 
veteran sites like ifilm.com (owned by Viacom) and AtomFilms.com, 
arrives via the viral effect: people follow links they've received in friend- 
ly emails. Online availability of short films and user-generated con- 
tent — the line between the two is increasingly difficult to define — is 
overhauling the distribution paradigm into one based on word-of- 
mouth and broad appeal. Online video is becoming contagious and 
short filmmaking is evolving. 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 25 




'i 






■Pf'f 



it 






Flux Rostrum, the man behind NO Eviction (pictured), a YouAreTV news-style short 
about post-Katrina evictions, says he tries every free video service at least once. 



Roger Jackson, vice president of content and programming at 
IFILM, a video-streaming site that launched in 1999, suggests that 
"film"-makers are having a hard time coming to terms with this shift- 
ing paradigm of what constitutes a short film. Jackson believes that the 
traditional idea of a short, a film semi-professionally made at the 
expense of a film student or wannabe director, is becoming less relevant 
in the emerging realm. A time when two barely-teenage girls can 
upload an anti-porn diatribe entitled "Totally Hot Makeout Session," 
(www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2689979) made with absolutely no atten- 
tion to lighting or the color of the wall behind them (it's a putrid pink) 
and still get 1,371,169 views in the user video sections, while a script- 
ed, labor intensive and possibly expensively made short, maybe even 
shot on 16mm, often gets no more than 1,000 views. 

According to Jackson, executives and agents who have met with 



IFILM about discovering new talent through websites have lowered 
their expectations in terms of production value and formal rules of 
filmmaking. They respond to the wit and creative ability demonstrat- 
ed by "more organic, more spontaneous filmmaking," as well as how 
successfully a video taps into what people want to watch — a success 
that is easily measured on the internet. In terms of whether studio execs 
or agents spend time browsing around, in search of the next big thing, 
Jackson says the answer is. . . probably not. There is no need to. In order 
to see what people are responding to all one needs to do is look at the 
numbers. Each clip or short reports the number of times it has been 
viewed. Jackson says the people who three years ago were saying, "I saw 
a great short film on the short film channel, and I'm in development" 
are now saying, "I saw that clip in the user video section, and wow, 
that's a great idea. That person has got some talent." 



26 The Independent I May/June 2006 




During a recent meeting, CAA talent agents who had been poking 
around on the site told IFILM, based in central Hollywood, that 
though in the past they were looking at classic short films, "now we 
look at the numbers." Numbered, it seems, are the days of orchestrat- 
ed market research and focus groups. "We can figure out what creators 
and what creative approaches work with our audience," says Scott 
Roesch, the vice president and general manager of AtomFilms, a veter- 
an site also launched in 1999 that gets 5 million unique visitors a 
month. "We have some information that helps us when evaluating 
future projects... whether wed want to invest in them." AtomFilms 
currently has six or seven projects in development with content creators 
who have previously had work on the site. 

This potential has not been lost on The Independent Film Channel, 
who launched Media Lab in January and heavily promoted it at this 



year's South by Southwest film and interactive conference. Registered 
users upload their shorts, and viewers vote to rank the films. The five 
highest ranking films are broadcast on IFC once during a given month, 
and according to the Media Lab website, "top ranking filmmakers will 
be nurtured and cultivated by IFC on an ongoing basis." Evan 
Fleischer, who is in charge of the project, says that IFC has a competi- 
tive advantage over other video streaming sites, most of which do not 
have a television outlet and are "essentially a free-for-all." Using Media 
Lab, IFC programmers can gauge what people want to watch before 
putting it on the air and without investing in production costs, licens- 
ing fees, or even paying a programmer to sit through the 675 submis- 
sions that Media Lab got during its first two months online. Current 
TV takes the same approach, encouraging viewers to upload "pods" 
onto www.current.tv. The shorts with the most votes are then broad- 
cast on one of Current's programs, VC , (viewer-created content). 
MySpace.com, often touted as the nexus of media-sharing and social- 
networking, recently launched a section that taps into what many users 
have been using the site for already, sharing video content. On 
"MySpace Film" viewers can vote on which up-and-coming filmmaker 
they'd like to see more from. 

What kind of material gets high numbers? Brevity and comedy seem 
to be the recipe for success, and voyeurism is a big factor. If a filmmaker 
or content creator produces something "that is compelling to a wide 
audience and resonates with people," says Jackson, "the bottom line is: 
would you rather be a filmmaker who got something into a festival 
where a dozen top filmmakers... said to you, 'Hey man, that was 
great,' and it doesn't go anywhere. Or would you rather have a half a 
million nobodies watch it online and see all the comments." Jackson 
insists that while the festival circuit is still significant and highly valued 
by filmmakers, "the numbers at film festivals are trivial." 

According to Jackson, 85 percent of IFILM's 35,000 video clips gets 
watched every day and the majority of broadband entertainment view- 
ing takes place during the working day. "It's more of an Tve got five 
minutes at work' thing," says Jackson about the general preference for 
shorter films. Roesch calls online video streaming "the perfect enter- 
tainment snacking medium." People like to consume short bursts of 
content rather than make a conscious effort to seek out specific mate- 
rial. "They're not leaning back and watching an hour or two's worth of 
programming at a time," he says. "They're surfing from one short film 
or one short clip to another." 

"Everything is digital, so the reach is infinite," says Dundas, whose 
day job is working in content licensing and business development for 
mobile phones. But infinite reach can be confusing, and audiences can 
get lost in cyberspace among or within the multitude of websites that 
deal in video content. "[A film] will be up there," says David Russell, 
president of the short film distribution company and sales agent Big 
Film Shorts, "along with 7,500 other films. It becomes 'How do you 
let your world know that [your work] is even there?" Roesch of 
AtomFilms, which carefully programs its site and pays royalties to all 
content creators, says that the shortfall of sites focused on user-gener- 
ated video is the way that the most-watched videos go straight to the 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 27 




Ifilm.com offers channels such as Viral Video, Shorts, and 
Anime, and specialized sections like Dubya and Girls 




Crazy Frog "Popcorn," a short available on AtomFilms by 
Barbier-Lambert Adrien, Annesley Adrien, and Le Thanh Lam 



top, resulting in pages filled with sexual and scatological humor. 

Dundas explains that YouAreTV hopes to maintain its democratic 
direct posting model while also trying to incorporate more than just if 
someone watched a clip when determining which work is featured, but 
whether viewers actually liked what they saw. Their plan is to hold audi- 
ence attention over time — an aim fundamentally different than that of 
success attained by the viral effect — by making the identity of the film- 
maker a central part of the viewing experience. IFILM and other sites do 
offer a tab or sidebar where satisfied viewers can see more work by the 
same creator, but think of YouAreTV as the social networking site (i.e. 
Friendster, Facebook) of the online video world. They are poised to use 
networking and buzz among community members to enable content 
creators to build a following. Just like in the user video section of IFILM, 
users can upload content unfettered by any editorial voice, but the con- 
tent tends to be more crafted and deliberate and less voyeuristic, perhaps 
because it is so closely associated with its maker. "No one knows how 
independent content is going to change the landscape of media and the 
way that media is consumed," says Jesse Sanchez, one of the founders of 
YouAreTV. He explains that the hope is that successful filmmakers or 
content creators would build a solid, wide enough audience to continue 
self-distribution via YouAreTV (YouAreTV plans to share ad revenue 
with content creators in the near future), or that the likes of MTV will 
take notice as they did with The MySpace Movie. 



Just when it seems too good to be true, Russell, founder of a tra- 
ditional short film distribution outlet, cautions filmmakers about 
free online distribution. "Once a film is on the internet for free 
somewhere, or even if it's subscription and you have to pay for it, it 
can kibosh other kinds of deals and sales," he warns. At a SXSW 
panel "State of the North American Docs," The Documentary 
Channel's director of programming, Michael Burns, responding to a 
question about whether he would broadcast shorts that have been 
available online was initially ambivalent: "I wouldn't be crazy about 
it." After a few moments he leaned into the microphone and said, 
assertively, that The Documentary Channel's customers pay a 
monthly fee (similar to HBO) to get content that is not available 
elsewhere, especially not for free. Krysanne Katsoolis, executive pro- 
ducer of Cactus Three, a high-end nonfiction programming compa- 
ny that presented three films at SXSW, commented that while that 
is the case currently, the traditional model of distribution is in flux. 
Putting a short online right away does take away any chance of being 
nominated for an Oscar because the academy will not accept any- 
thing that has been online. 

Ultimately, it depends on whether a filmmaker is promoting her 
film or herself, in which case an individual piece is a vehicle to get her 
name out there, and Russell concedes that in that case online distri- 
bution might be a good option. Gerard O'Malley of the BBC, who's 
newly launched short film streaming site Film Network, which 
attracts around 70,000 users per month, points out that "you're more 
likely to get people watching your film [online] than putting it at a 
graveyard slot on TV." As a result of Film Network's "virtual indus- 
trial panel," a function that allows industry professionals to register 
for the site in a way that identifies them as such when they post com- 
ments, several filmmakers whose work is showcased on Film Network 
have been approached by small production companies. Many con- 
tent creators who started at AtomFilms have already started to make 
it big, including Jason Reitman, whose 2005 film Thank You for 
Smoking stars Robert Duvall and William H. Macy. "A lot of people 
come up to him and tell him the first time they saw him... it was 
under an AtomFilms brand of distribution," says Roesch. Annibelle 
Scoops, a series of animations by Keith Thompson, also got popular 
on AtomFilms and was picked up for a pilot by MTV. 

"There are all these screens," says Dundas, so if Roesch's predic- 
tion that the internet and mobile devices are about to become real 
career opportunities for people — Dundas predicts that within 18 
months video-enabled cell phones will be ubiquitous — sites that 
provide online film and video content will continue to add to the 
roster of success stories. 

O'Malley has observed that "new players that we can see coming in 
are kids in their bedroom animating, creating animations for the 
web... who don't really see themselves as filmmakers." Says Jackson, 
"You can question as to why people find it compelling, but you can't 
really argue. The numbers really do speak for themselves." It seems 
clear that short filmmaking is becoming less about producing a pol- 
ished calling card to show off to high-powered movie execs and more 
about building a following around brief, witty encounters that might 
never bring the creator a dime. A film posted on the net is significant 
to a filmmaker's career in terms of what it can lead to and is a venue 
for showing off creative prowess rather than production skills. ~k 



28 The Independent I May/June 2006 




- 
-a 



9 

ss 



etting high 



ertlVLT saT^ d 



Bib ■ Ai^jI 





By Anthony Kaufman 

After failing to stir up distributor interest, Susan Buice and 
Arin Crumley, the pioneers behind Slamdance favorite Four 
Eyed Monsters, turned to the web as both a creative outlet 
and marketing tool. Employing Apple's iTunes Video tech- 
nology, the couple began podcasting episodes of their 20-something, 
angst-ridden adventures to raise interest in the feature film. "In about 
nine months, we went to 16 film festivals and 3,000 people saw the film. 
Yet in the first 36 hours, [our podcasts] were viewed 3,000 times online," 
says Crumley. "So it's increased demand for a film that otherwise might 
have been lost in the shuffle." 

"Ultimately, it's an easy way to get an audience," adds Buice, "and it's 
an easy way to make movies rather than going from film festival to film 
festival." But, calling from his parents' house in order to save money and 
prevent further debt, Buice admits, "I don't think people should get into 
video podcasting to make money." 

"With these changes in digital production and distribution, nobody 
can stop you from making a movie and nobody can stop you from get- 
ting it out into the world," says Paradigm Consulting President and 
self-described optimist Peter Broderick who was a distribution consult- 
ant on the much ballyhooed grassroots release of Mark Neale's motor- 
cycle-racing documentary Faster, which sold some 20,000 DVDs via 
the filmmaker's website. That said, in order to navigate the variables 
associated with online distribution, one must have a broad knowledge 
of the terrain. 

For Buice and Crumley, the podcasts have been about "building an 
audience," explains Crumley, who estimates they have more than 20,000 
subscribers. "An audience is a valuable thing, and you don't necessarily 
have to cash in on it, but it definitely has value." (The duo hopes to start 
selling DVDs at some point for cash, but first wants to churn out anoth- 
er half-dozen or so podcasts.) 

Broderick agrees that such audience-building is essential. "With those 
names and emails, you convert people from consumers of a product to 
supporters of an artist," he says. "If people have core audiences, they need 
to take the responsibility of how to let [them] know about the availabil- 
ity of the film through the internet." 

With that, Broderick warns that selling off rights in today's day and 
age is an increasingly outdated concept. "Everyone should hold onto 
non-exclusive rights," he says. After all, no one knows better than the 



Buice and Crumley pro- 
moted Four Eyed Monsters 
by podcasting episodes 



filmmaker who best to market her film to; and there's no easier way to 
spread the word than over the internet. 

And selling via your own website, he adds, is not mutually exclusive 
with closing a deal with other retailers. "They know that harnessing the 
filmmaker is only going to benefit them," he adds. 

In fact, many companies encourage filmmakers to have their own 
websites. IndieFlix, an online clearinghouse for no-budget pictures 
(which conspicuously features one top-selling film from the company's 
founders, Carlo Scandiuzzi and Scilla Andreen), doesn't buy any rights 
but simply acts as a service for manufacturing, delivery, and community- 
building. "The filmmaker is the first line of PR," says Scandiuzzi, who 
estimates their top-selling features, all priced at $9.95, have sold roughly 
500 copies. "With friends, family, and crew, it's very important that they 
bring in their community," he continues. "And if all these filmmakers 
bring in their communities it becomes one large community." Though 
as of March, the IndieFlix community, with barely 100 titles, was still tel- 
atively small, the duo claims that another 20 submissions arrive every 
month. 

Like IndieFlix, IndiePix, another web-based DVD sales company, 
takes care of DVD authoring, boxing, and shipping. While IndieFlix 
gives the filmmaker one-third of the profits, filmmakers who distribute 
with IndiePix retain 70 percent of sales; neither company purchases 
rights. IndiePix President Bob Alexandet says that given the company's 
promotional support, indies can see sales of roughly 1,000 units (about 
10 percent of their 2,000 titles are indies without distributors attached). 

Though wait a year and selling DVDs off a website will seem as old- 
fashioned as using a rotary phone. Recently, IndiePix launched a 
"Download to Own" program. For the first time, champions the com- 
pany, movies can be download onto a DVD and played on a home enter- 
tainment system. Digital download rights, says Broderick, "will become 
more valuable, and they'll increasingly be another option for filmmak- 
ers." Bigger companies are already on the digital bandwagon, such as 
Starz' Vongo. And there are rumors that Apple's iTunes is developing a 
downloadable video movie store of thousands of feature films to supple- 
ment their limited catalogue of TV shows and music videos. Thus far, 
Netflix has eschewed the internet download model, but even Chief 
Content Officer Ted Sarandos says they'll eventually have to go there. "k 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 29 




BY DANIELLE DIGIACOMO 



In 1973, a young, cinema-loving bohemian couple fled the high 
rents of Manhattan for the more affordable suburbs of 
Huntington, NY. Once there, Vic Skolnick and Charlotte Sky 
found that they had also fled, inadvertently, the vibrant inde- 
pendent cinema scene in New York City, which was then in its heyday, 
with more than a dozen arthouses sprinkled throughout the boroughs. 
Without Netflix, or even (gasp!) home video, Skolnick and Sky were 
not content to suck it up at the local multiplex. So, in what is now leg- 
endary in the annals of independent film theatre history, they rented a 
few 16mm reels and a projector from the library, tacked a white bed- 
sheet to a wall, passed out flyers, and invited fellow film lovers to a 
screening of Robert Rossen's Lilith, accompanied by the W.C. Fields' 
short, The Fatal Glass of Beer. Attendees were asked to bring their own 
chairs. 



The Skolnick-Sky dilemma is not uncommon — jaded consumers 
become too full to enjoy the big city's cultural feast, and it's only when 
they move from uber-urbanity to a smaller city or the suburbs that they 
appreciate what they once had. This is especially true in film. Small 
towns and cities have been shortchanged cinematically, as if only the 
most cosmopolitan sophisticates can appreciate the non-big-budget 
blockbuster. As the Skolnicks continue to demonstrate, this is simply 
not the case. 

Thirty-three years after hanging that bedsheet, this pioneering duo, 
along with their son Dylan, continue to run what is now known as the 
Cinema Arts Centre. With three screening rooms and two cafes, it is 
nationally renowned, attracting dozens of big-named filmmakers, 
actors, and critics. Their annual budget is $1.8 million dollars, and 
thev have over 8,000 members. 



30 The Independent I May/June 2006 




Group shot of The Film Streams Cinema Project, which is made up of (from left) Autumn Campbell, Pablo de Ocampo, and Jeremy Rossen 



Huntington's Cinema Arts Centre, which now seems like a wizened 
old-timer in a tragically small family, has inspired a few small-town 
visionaries to follow its lead. More film fanatic than economically ori- 
ented entrepreneur, these intrepid young cinema-builders are trying to 
fill a cultural gap in the towns they love. 

Film Streams 

Rachel Jacobson, born and bred in Omaha, is a movie nerd — one of 
those list-making, spreadsheet-keeping, ticket-stub-saving fanatics. Her 
transformation from casual moviegoer to bona-fide cinemaniac 
occurred in 2000 while she was a senior at the University of Illinois. 
Courses in documentary film and French cinema opened her eyes to 
the potential of film as both a unique art and a social tool. Jacobson 
realized that, rather than make movies, she wanted to "promote film as 
an art form somehow." While visiting her family during a break from 
school, she realized that "a true arthouse was something that has always 
really been missing from Omaha," and she decided then and there to 
open one. First step: move to the Big Apple. 

In New York, she adapted so well to the city's frenzied pace that her 
"outsider" origins were always met with surprise. Living in the East 
Village, the refreshingly open and stylish blonde with an infectious 
laugh created a social orbit with her many creative friends, connecting 



a web of artists, filmmakers, and writers for social and collaborative 
purposes. Still, she didn't waiver in her plan to return home bearing a 
gift that would (hopefully) wield decades of perpetual returns. With 
her eye on the prize, Jacobson took a course in arts administration at 
New York University and took jobs in cinema and nonprofit arts — in 
distribution at Miramax, in fundraising at Theater for a New 
Audience, and finally, in individual giving and marketing at WNYC, 
New York's public radio station. 

Jacobson kept in touch with an old Omaha friend, Robb Nansel, 
the head of a not-so-little indie label called Saddle Creek Records, 
which, together with its star musician, indie rock heartthrob Conor 
Oberst, helped put the city on the hipster map. Jacobson and Nansel 
used to brainstorm over beers about opening a cultural centre in 
Omaha, which would house both a concert venue and a nonprofit cin- 
ema. Jacobson considered this merely drunken dreaming until January 
2005 when she got, as she put it, "the phone call that changed my life." 
Unbeknownst to her, Nansel had been in talks with the City of 
Omaha, which agreed to give him space in a developing area of the city 
to build a concert hall and cinema as well as apartments, offices, a 
restaurant, and a retail store. All Jacobson had to do was move home 
and run the cinema. 

The decision was a no-brainer. Jacobson immediately met with 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 31 



lawyers to establish nonprofit status and, since permanently moving 
back, has worked manically to raise money and awareness, and to build 
a board of directors, which now includes Kurt Anderson, host of NPR's 
culture program "Studio 360," and acclaimed filmmaker Alexander 
Payne {Sideways, Election). She named the center Film Streams, a dual 
ode to her beloved city (Omaha means "above all else on a stream") and 
her favorite director, John Cassavetes, who directed Love Streams. 

Film Streams has already collaborated with community groups to 
program a film series at the Joslyn Art Museum. Jacobson has curated a 
decidedly diverse schedule of movies, including Kurosawa's Rashomon, 
Bergman's The Magic Flute, and Jessica Yu's Henry Darger documentary, 
In the Realms of the Unreal. When the cinema is up and running (the pro- 
jected opening date is Spring 2007) it will have a model similar to New 
York's Film Forum; a 208-seat theatre will project first-run indies, docu- 
mentaries, and foreign films not playing elsewhere in the city, while a 
smaller, 99-seat room will be devoted to repertory series with guest 
speakers and community partners' involvement. 

The Cinema Project 

Even further from the megaplex is The Cinema Project, the self-pro- 
claimed "micro-cinema" of Portland, Oregon that was formed in 2003 
by filmmakers Jeremy Rossen, Autumn Campbell, and Pablo de 
Ocampo. In 2000, all three had moved from larger cities, where they 
found inspiration in the experimental and avant-garde, to Portland 
where they found, Rossen explains, that "there was a gap in the film 
community of screenings with this type of work. We all believe that in 
order to support the continued existence of film, it must be shown." 
The three formed a volunteer collective that was initially funded by 
local grants and organizations. 

Without the funds to buy their own space, the collective has been 
mobile. The first few screenings were held at a black-box theater where 
they built their own projection booth. (The theater, however, was also 
used for punk shows, so when they set up a screening, they often found 
hung-over teens and the smell of stale beer.) When the space got sold 
and the collective evicted, they started screening at the New American 
Art Union, which had been recently opened by a friend. The space, 
though admittedly not built specifically for projecting films, proved to 
be suitable, and Cinema Project has been presenting programs there 
since early 2005. 

Over the last three years, the Project has programmed two seasons a 
year, with an average of eight programs per season. Past programs have 
included films by Stan Brakhage, Chantal Ackerman, Robert Frank, 
Marguerite Duras, Yoko Ono, Trinh Minh-Ha, Lewis Klahr, Paul 
Chan, and Nathanial Dorsky; the latter four of these appeared in per- 
son to discuss and present their work. A personal highlight for Rossen 
was fall 2005s complete Peter Kubelka retrospective, for which the 77- 
year-old, avant-garde legend traveled from Austria to present a food 
lecture along with his films. 

Like Jacobson, the collective offers films not showing anywhere else 
in the city or in the entire Pacific Northwest for that matter. The three 
filmmakers share programming duties, which de Ocampo says helps 
the center have "a nice cross section of different styles and time periods 
represented." The founders independently choose films and then "meet 
up to strategize about a season together — is there enough historical 
work? Are we showing enough films by women or people of color? Do 




Raoul Walsh's film played at Cinema Arts, accompanied by composer George 
Cork Maul and violinist A. Gabriel Kastelle. 




Film Streams' Rachel Jacobson brings indie film to the heartland. 

we have enough shows that are 'easy' on the audience? Is there a bal- 
ance between formal work and content-based work?" On the whole, 
however, de Ocampo, who is partial to work by minority and foreign 
artists, admits, "I think we're all just looking for work that we like." 

Because they don't have their own permanent theater, the trio has to 
work much harder than Jacobson to get the Project taken seriously. 
Being unprofessional is "a huge weakness with microcinemas, who 
might be programming amazing work but have sloppy projection with 
cheap projectors and slapped together theater space," says de Ocampo. 
He, Rossen, and Campbell make a concerted effort to buy good pro- 
jectors that don't scratch the film prints, to know their equipment, and 
to make the presentation as professional as possible. 

Box Office and Budgets 

Even with their notably disparate undertakings, Film Streams and 
the Cinema Project share a mammoth, unending task — funding their 
cinemas. Cinema Project, with a volunteer staff, no monthly rent and 
only two seasons to program, had a 2005 budget of $16,000. Jacobson 



32 The Independent I May/June 2006 



projects the expense of operating a seven-day-a-week theatre, with 28 
percent going to compensation and 25 percent going to rent, will be 
$570,000. Despite different budgets, the two share the same fundrais- 
ing model, which Jacobson, channeling her nonprofit days, calls "diver- 
sified income streams based on a traditional nonprofit fundraising 
structure: corporate sponsorship, foundations, individual donors, spe- 
cial events, and membership." 

Box office will also add a notable chunk of income to Film Streams, 
which follows the Cinema Arts Centre model of, as Dylan Skolnick put 
it, "using the popular films to support the not-so-popular films." He 
compares this method to that of directors such as Stephen Soderbergh, 
who alternate their bigger-budget Hollywood fare with shoestring 
budget labors of love. Ticket sales at the Cinema Project, which is ded- 
icated to NOT showing popular work, hardly make a dent. "Showing 
the type of work that we do," they note, "primarily 16mm films, is 
inherently expensive. Selling tickets at the door usually does not even 
begin to cover costs." 

Yet both theaters' founders say the smaller cities bring certain advan- 
tages. Local pride creates a pool of willing contributors who, unlike 
New Yorkers, have expendable income not already depleted by or ear- 
marked for other cultural institutions. Jacobson says support from 
entrepreneurs has been so enthusiastic because, "People are starting to 
get that in order to build an interesting city here, there needs to be a 
diverse array of cultural opportunities. Omaha's a city on the cusp of 
urbanization, and businesses are looking for ways to attract smart, 
young people." Film Streams, the city is realizing, is a way to not only 
keep the "creative class" in the city, but also to reel them in. 



present to discuss their work in a small intimate format is an amazing 
experience that is often missing, and what sets us apart from some of the 
larger national organizations." 

That Film Streams, Cinema Project, and Cinema Arts Centre, all at 
different stages of growth, are all working nonstop to find funding and 
attract members shows just how difficult it is to create and maintain an 
independent cinema. Dylan Skolnick laments, not entirely unhappily, 
"in this business, it's always a rough year." But these courageous 
cinephiles who all believe that building not only a theater, but a com- 
munity of people who socialize around the art of film, is worth the 
struggle, also have faith that if you build it, they will come. As the 
Cinema Project posse concur, "We have always felt strongly that this 
type of work, though challenging and difficult at times, is often just not 
known; if you can find a way to get an audience to a show, even a small 
one, your audience will grow as you continue to show work." "to 



Five more cinemas helping 
spread the indie love 



Balagan Experimental Film and Video Series — Boston, 
Massachusetts 

Created in 2000 by filmmakers Jeff Silva and Alia Kovgan, 
the Balagan presents experimental film and video works at 
Boston's historic art deco Coolidge Corner Theatre. 
www.coolidge.org/balagan/about.html 



If You Build It, They Will Come 

The Film Streams' official mission statement states its aim is "to 
enhance the cultural environment of Omaha through the presentation 
and discussion of film as an art form," while the Cinema Project asserts 
its goal is to "work to foster an informed viewing public that will sup- 
port the wider circulation and critical appreciation of film and video 
art." 

Both are clearly kindred spirits of their Huntington, New York fore- 
bears, whose son Dylan points out that their cinema was initially called 
the New Community Cinema, stressing that the community connec- 
tion is essential to the success of an independent cinema. Now that 
home theatre systems can be more impressive than public theatres, it is 
even more of a struggle to attract an audience. "People have so many 
more options now," Dylan says. "Cable, DVDs, Netflix. You have to 
make [the theater] into an attractive experience, a night out that peo- 
ple enjoy." 

All three cinemas stress the importance of interactivity: dialogue, 
events, and education. Like Cinema Arts Centre, Film Streams will 
partner with schools to educate youth through and about film. Both 
theatres partner with community groups to curate their programs; the 
Cinema Arts Centre is the site of the Long Island Gay and Lesbian 
Film Festival, the Latino Film Festival, and an International Women's 
Day Celebration, co-sponsored by the feminist action organization, 
Code Pink. And Jacobson, even during the budding stages of creating 
her organization, has partnered with the Omaha Public Library and the 
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, among others, to create event 
screenings. For Rossen of the Cinema Project, "Having the filmmaker 



Aurora Picture Show — Houston, Texas 

This award-winning theatre was started in 1998 
Houston-based media artists Andrea Grover and Patrick 
Walsh. In order to do so they transformed a dilapidated 
1924 wooden church into a modern, 100-seat cinema. 
www.aurorapictureshow.org 

Mini-Cine — Schreveport, Louisiana 

Formed in 2001, Mini-Cine "is a roving, pop-up suitcase, 
grocery cart, thrift store, hands on, volunteer-run venue for 
experimental and independent film and video located in 
Shreveport, Louisiana. Screening in galleries, coffee shops, 
or vacant buildings, Mini-cine strives to create an 
artist/audience interactive environment and welcomes 
filmmakers and multimedia visual artists to present new 
works." www.swampland.org/minicine 

Denver Film Society — Denver, Colorado 

Founded in 1978, Denver Film Society's structure is simi- 
lar to that of Film Streams and the Cinema Arts Centre. 
www.denverfilm.org 

Sarasota Film Society — Sarasota, Florida 

Another nonprofit cinema, the Sarasota Film Society is 
dedicated to partnering with community groups for educa- 
tional outreach, www.filmsociety.org 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 33 



Member of the Club: A New > 
Mardi Gr*> celebrations of the oide 
- *— < in both the white and i 



&Ji 



u 



mps iii the Road 

Compromise in the new 
world of documentary film 



ANGELA MARTENEZ 




34 The Independent I May/June 2006 




As advances in digital technology make filmmaking more 
accessible than ever, it's tempting to believe that fewer tech- 
nical obstacles means fewer compromises. For better or 
worse, it's not so simple. It seems, when life becomes easier 
in one respect — say with the one click it takes to upload onto 
GreenCine — it can also become more challenging in another — as in 
luring enough people in to see your one in a million documentary. 
Filmmakers are facing suffer competition to attract flinders, broadcast- 
ers, and distributors, which means they are making tougher choices 
about the tools and partnerships that will support their work — all of 
which involve compromise. 

We took advantage of this 
dynamic moment in docu- 
mentary history to speak 
with a range of documentary 
filmmakers — from emerging 
voices to esteemed pioneers, 
experimental essayists to 
three-act devotees — about 
the role that compromise has 
played in their careers. Is 
unfettered freedom really the 
Holy Grail of the documen- 
tary filmmaker? We found 
give-and-take can lead to 
unexpected discovery just as 
often as it brings unwelcome 
sacrifice. As Jacques 
Thelemaque, co-founder of 

Filmmaker's Alliance, a Los-Angeles-based collective with a focus on 
collaborative filmmaking, says, "You can't compromise until you know 
what essentially can't be compromised." 

Jennie Livingston, director of Paris Is Burning, received partial fund- 
ing from Netflix and The Sundance Channel for her current project, 
Earth Camp One, a personal documentary feature about losing four 
family members in five years. She attributes the funding she received in 
part to the recent success of personal documentaries like My Architect 
and Tarnation, as well as to the fact that docs are currently enjoying a 
"renewed moment of hotness." Though, in truth, her own refusal to 
compromise actually helped set the precedent for documentaries as 
bankable entertainment. Despite winning a Grand Jury Prize at 
Sundance, Paris Is Burning could not find a distributor. Rather than see 
years of hard work sit on the shelf, the film's creators acted on the con- 
viction that there was an audience, both gay and straight, for their story, 
which led them to self-distribute at New York's Film Forum. The film 
became such a runaway hit that Miramax, which had initially passed on 
it, picked it up. 

Still Livingston's tenacity did not guarantee that refusing to compro- 
mise one time would melt obstacles for good. "I thought because I'd 
'done the impossible' once, people would assume I could do it again. 
That was a naive assumption," she says. In fact, Livingston did have to 
compromise on Who's The Top?, which she made as a narrative short 
after years of trying to produce it as a feature. 

Macky Alston recently completed his third documentary feature, 



Modern-day fairy tale: A little princess from Ferguson's Member of the Club 



The Killer Within, about what happened when a man who committed a 
Columbine-type crime 50 years ago finally revealed the truth to the 
world. Alston knew he might not receive support from foundations to 
complete the project. But then when Discovery Docs, the theatrical arm 
of Discovery Channel, agreed to fund the film, he grew concerned 
about the impact of Discovery's support at this early stage of produc- 
tion. (Alston's previous partnerships with PBS and HBO were signed 
after or close to completion.) "I thought, 'What is my responsibility to 
my subjects who have trusted me with their very fragile lives at a very 
vulnerable time?' I'm saying 'Trust me,' but the 'me' is much larger than 
just me. And I don't have control over those who actually have control 

over the product," he says. 
Alston talked to the story's 
principal family about his 
reservations over whether 
to risk the unknown. 
Because his protagonist 
originally signed on to the 
film because he saw it as 
an opportunity to bring 
greater awareness to issues 
around school violence, he 
agreed to take the risk. 
Ultimately, Alston says 
Discovery turned out to 
be "an incredible part- 
ner — incredible." Not 
only did the executives 
share the filmmaker's sense 
of ethical responsibility, but they expected the film to reflect his unique 
vision. 

The compromise that comes with creating documentary television, 
explains award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, involves "fitting your 
vision into the mold of the cable company. Each show is a reflection of 
the network rather than of the creators." While PBS allows a lot of cre- 
ative freedom, producers generally have to raise their own funds. 
Gibney, who directed Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, built a 
career over two decades, producing and directing documentary projects 
such as The Blues with Martin Scorsese for PBS, as well as nonfiction 
series for cable. Gibney learned the hard way that when creating a series 
for television, "if you don't fight for the integrity of your project, no one 
will." In one case he was asked to include commentary from a well- 
known television personality in a historical documentary series in the 
hopes that it would give the project a higher profile and hense help its 
marketing. However, he had no control over the content and, according 
to Gibney, it included inaccurate information that he believes under- 
mined aspects of the series. "I wanted to be a good boy and make every- 
one happy. Independents have a reputation for being difficult individu- 
als," he says. And while he regrets the decision, he acknowledges that 
picking your battles means weighing your resources against your clout. 
"It doesn't do any good to charge boldly into battle with two people 
behind you and the Wehrmacht army in front of you," he says. 

More often than not, though, compromise, or the threat of it, can act 
as a catalyst moving the filmmaker to explore the complexities of his 
film. When Parvez Sharma began his first documentary feature, In the 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 35 




Christina Ibarra sees compromise differently than she used to 

Name of Allah, he traveled around the U.S. armed with a camera and a 
commitment to "take the discourse of Islam to its most unlikely story- 
tellers," namely, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Muslims 
who were capable of describing an Islam that didn't emerge in either 
Eastern or Western media. Eventually he realized that in order to be a 
true agent of change, Sharma had to "go where the silence is strongest," 
which led the documentary through eleven countries and nine languages. 
With producer Sandi Dubowski, director of Trembling Before G-d, 
Sharma secured partnerships with the UK's Channel 4, 
France/Germany's ZDF/Arte, Australia's SBS, and MTV's LOGO net- 
work. Having railed against big business in the past, this was a difficult 
decision for Sharma, an avowed guerrilla filmmaker. Ironically MTV has 
often been a lightening rod for the mullahs' rhetoric against those in the 
West who "distort Islam." "I thought I was making a compromise, but 
they know the importance of the film and are trying to create gay pro- 
gramming that is responsible and makes a difference," Sharma says. 
Though this prospective compromise has turned out to be a positive 
one, Sharma, an Indian-born gay Muslim, recognizes that the subject 
matter of his film will always involve unique compromises. While he 
aims to shed light on queer Muslims and the shame that keeps them in 
the shadows, he is also committed to making a film within the bound- 
aries of his faith, a film that will reveal an Islam beyond the oppressive, 
jihadist monolith that Westerners typically know. "I don't need to pro- 
duce images that Muslim families will not be comfortable with. It push- 
es you to create different kinds of visual imagery," he says. Ultimately, 
Sharma credits this tension with highlighting the subtle layers of his 
film's subject. As he puts it: "Challenge, compromise, choice — I func- 
tion best with all those things around me, because it forces me to live 
that idea that the personal is political." 

Filmmaker Cristina Ibarra now defines compromise in a way that 
would have surprised her younger self. "When I first started, I thought 
film would be a way of speaking to my family, to my community. I was 
doing my work and thought as long as I was honest with myself, I 
shouldn't let anyone influence or change my direction in any way," she 
says. Eventually, after embarking on collaborative projects and being 
exposed to a range of filmmaking approaches, Ibarra expanded her orig- 
inal vision. "By compromising, you learn who you are, what your pri- 
orities are, what's worth pursuing. It helps you grasp meaning out of 
your stories, helps you see complexities you wouldn't have seen other- 
wise." During the making of her current PBS documentary project, The 
Last Conquistador, she came to value the negotiation that a documen- 



tary's characters and themes often bring, introducing ideas that initially 
may feel compromising to the original ideas but are, in fact, just choic- 
es. The film follows the construction and impact of a colonial-era stat- 
ue in a Texas border town and includes voices from Native American, 
Chicano, and Anglo community members. Their responses to the stat- 
ue reflect a deeper tension between them. Although she thought she 
understood her subject from the get-go, the filmmaking has deepened 
Ibarra's commitment to her audience, one that stretches beyond her 
early goals. "I don't want to just talk to one person or one type of per- 
son, I want to reach everyone. It doesn't mean that Latino or Chicano 
stories wouldn't be interesting to someone somewhere else, but it's about 
the human story now as opposed to setting things straight. Instead of 
searching for differences, I search for similarities." 

The mobility and low-overhead of a one-man band, with the direc- 
tor wearing most, if not all, hats, is appealing, though sometimes decep- 
tively so. Phoebe Ferguson, a commercial photographer turned docu- 
mentary filmmaker, is now editing her first feature, Member of the Club: 
A New Orleans Cinderella Story. While she can't imagine working with- 
out the ease afforded by being essentially one woman with a digital 
video camera, this New Orleans native is skeptical of the "new" inde- 
pendence. "You feel so freed by it, that you can do things cheaper, and 
don't need anything to do with a co-production company and other 
people. I haven't really had to make compromises so far, but I'm not sure 
that's a good thing. I yearned for more help. I may not have wanted it, 
but I would probably have learned more as a filmmaker. You never have 
to go through the front door of someone else's office saying, 'Would you 
be interested in this film?'" she says. Still Ferguson knows that the ease 
of access was a critical element in the birth of her passion for documen- 
tary filmmaking. And while she may not have had partnerships that 
forced her to compromise, she recognizes that a certain amount of com- 
promise is an integral part of working with her subjects. "It's all about 
the give and take. You push forward, and they push back. It's very hard. 
You have to compromise the way you interact with people. You have to 
remember your role as a filmmaker." 

Barbara Hammer, a pioneer of lesbian feminist cinema, does the 
work of an entire production team — from research to shooting to edit- 
ing — thanks to a willingness to "live simply" (including the good for- 
tune of federally-subsidized artist housing), support from friends in the 
industry, interns, and her honed grant-writing skills. This independence 
has enabled Hammer to push the boundaries of experimental docu- 
mentary and essay forms. She received funding from the NEA for her 
first feature, Nitrate Kisses, in 1992. The film explores images of lesbian 
and gay culture, including some sexually explicit homosexual scenes. At 
the time, the NEA was bending to pressure from conservatives, and the 
federal agency eventually flagged her file. Hammer set about making 
numerous prints of the film so that by the time she received the call a 
year later to remove the agency's name from the credits, she had proof 
that this venerable institution had once supported experimental work. 
Her latest documentary, Lover Other, which premiered at New York's 
Museum of Modern Art, is about two lesbian surrealist artists who never 
made it into the history books. The non-linear film uses multiple 
screens, a collage of interviews, and lyrical interludes. When asked 
whether she considers the limited number of venues willing or able to 
screen such work a compromise, she gently explains, "It's not me that's 
making the compromise." 



36 The Independent I May/June 2006 







4/ 

■ ^1 *4h\a *f 










This bold, exploratory, multi-tasking approach has also shaped the 
poignant and singular work of Alan Berliner. For 30 years, Berliner has 
produced, directed, edited, written, and often shot his own genre of 
experimental, essay, first-person documentary films. He recently fin- 
ished a feature called Wide Awake, a first-person exploration of insom- 
nia, which the filmmaker credits with feeding his work. Berliner admits 
the solo strategy has required discipline and perseverance as well as strik- 



Claude Caiiun and Marcel Moore in a 1929 period still from Lover Other 



ing a balance between the business, creative, and planning sides. "All 
these different parts of the process, and parts of me, have learned to 
compromise with one another all the time. I don't think I could do the 
work that I do if I couldn't negotiate with myself" Indeed this inner 
mediation represents a contract with his audience. "There's a part of me 
that wants each film to be very idiosyncratic and have experimental 
edges and take formal chances. There's another part that also wants to 
make sure that my mother understands the film and my mother's neigh- 
bors. That's a profound negotiation. It's a balance: To satisfy a deep 
need, the story has to be dynamic in such a way so people will recognize 
themselves. These are all key words: negotiation, balance, letting go," he 
says. While Berliner has been approached by Hollywood, he has never 
been tempted to follow the money. "I wouldn't have the same sense of 
authorship," he says. "Every film, I make I'm pushing boundaries and 
buttons so I know that I'm also defending the landscape of personal 
filmmaking. It's not easy to do, and it's not easy to fund. It's a contra- 
diction: Even if while I'm making it I want to know that it will be rele- 
vant to as many people as possible, I also have to be honest that it won't 
be. It's about recognizing what your limitations are. But that doesn't 
mean you stay safe. Ideally what you want is someone to say I can tell it 
was your film, but you took some chances." 

Regrets about roads not taken, sleepless nights spent wondering 
whether a battle was worth the picking (or sleepless nights picking bat- 
tles with oneself), second-guessing — all these are not just bumps in the 
road, but the very landscape most filmmakers describe as a vital part of 
the journey to becoming a filmmaker. Most of these filmmakers say they 
wouldn't expect to work, nor would they even prefer to work, without 
compromise, it being a key element of the collaboration which most 
consider to be vital to the filmmaking process. "I chose to be an artist to 
make my own choices," Hammer says. "It's a more risk-taking way to 
live. I don't want to eat at the best restaurants. I want to live in the world 
of exploration." it 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 37 












By Rebecca Carroll 



38 The Indep 



May/June 2006 



Writer, producer, and film 
executive James Schamus 
has had about as brilliant a 
career in independent film 
as they come, and it just keeps getting better. 
The films he has worked on read like a list of 
the only films that really matter in the mod- 
ern trajectory of independent cinema: The 
Wedding Banquet (1993), The Brothers 
McMullen (1995), Safe (1995), Walking and 
Talking (1996), The Ice Storm (1997), 
Happiness (1998), and the list goes on. His 
working relationship with director Ang Lee is 
well-documented, and the two have worked 
on nine films together, including the recent 
phenomenon that is Brokeback Mountain. 

I spoke to Schamus the day before he left 
for Los Angeles to attend this year's Academy 
Awards. In a surprise upset, Brokeback lost out 
to Crash, a montage drama about race issues 
in Los Angeles, for Best Picture. The film did, 
however, go home with Best Director and 
Best Adapted Screenplay awards. 

Rebecca Carroll: It's a big year for inde- 
pendent film — what's your position on the 
'indie heavy' Oscars this year, which 
includes, of course, several nominations for 
your film, Brokeback Mountain? 

James Schamus: I think that the historical 
horizon through which we interpret these 
moments is pretty limited. We look back to 
the late '80s and early '90s and think that's 
when [independent film] started, and we 
always frame it in this independent versus 
studio kind of way. But quite frankly, a more 
appropriate horizon — one among many — 
would be the late '60s, early '70s when United 
Artists had movies like Midnight Cowboy, 
which was an X-rated gay movie that won 
Best Picture. So what's so new about 
Brokeback Mountain*. 

RC: Right. I was really struck by a com- 
ment that I read in an article somewhere. 
You said that if people have a problem with 
Brokeback or the relationship portrayed in 
it, that's really their problem and that you 
'really, truly don't care.' That comment and 
others made it seem to me like you knew 
this film was going to be big — how did you 
know? 

JS: Well, you don't know. You never know. 
But you do have to do two things. As a busi- 



nessperson, you have to plan for the worst. 
But at the same time, you have to create struc- 
tures that allow for the best. You have to seize 
opportunities and create conditions under 
which those opportunities can be seized. So 
that means you have to be able to at least 
imagine a happy future and then work 
towards that. 

RC: And how does that strategy work 
with Brokebacki 

JS: In many ways, the film is a very old- 
fashioned movie, and it maintains old-fash- 
ioned virtues — a lack of cynicism and a real 
commitment to the romance of the story. Of 
the movies out this year, Brokeback is probably 
one of the most 'old Hollywood' of them all, 
which of course makes it look totally revolu- 
tionary and new. 

RC: How do you choose the films you 
work on — what appeals to you or attracts 
you to a project? 

JS: In general, the initial attraction is not to 
a film but to a filmmaker. What we [at Focus 
Features] always try to do is to make movies 
and, sorry to trot out the chestnut here, but it 
is true, that if it is a movie we're going to 
make, it is a movie that can only be made by 
one particular filmmaker. It has to be that per- 
son's film, not a generic product. So we're 
always looking for films that have a signature 
to them. 

RC: Not films that other people aren't 
making, but films that only a particular 
filmmaker can make — can you elaborate 
on that a little more? 

JS: Sure. You listen to the radio, and you 
hear pop songs and it could be any number of 
mass-produced teenyboppers singing them, 
but when you hear Nina Simone or Bob 
Dylan sing, you know it's them. We think of 
our films in very much the same way — they 
are the product of individual voices, not of a 
production line. 

RC: Got it. And your relationship with 
Ang Lee? How did that start? 

JS: Back in the day when Ted Hope and I 
had just started Good Machine, Ted had seen 
Ang's short film Fine Line. He shared it with 



The Film Division 
of Columbia University 
congratulates Professor 
James Schamus, 
longtime faculty member, 
Producer of 

Brokeback Mountain, 
and Co-President of 
Focus Features, for 
a spectacular year of 
independent filmmaking 
at its best. 




NEW YORK CITY May 1-11 
LOS ANGELES June 6-8 
www.cufilmfest.com 
212-854-1547 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 39 




Special Collections / Casper College Library 




FILM, ARTS & 
ENTERTAINMENT 



It's not just for Westerns anymore 
www.wyomingfilm.org 




me, and we both said, 'Wow, what is this guy 
doing?' It had been five years since he'd made 
Fine Line at NYU, and he'd just won some 
money for a screenplay award in Taiwan. So 
we were able to hook up with him and help 
him make his first feature, Pushing Hands. 

RC: What a great relationship that has 
been, right? 

JS: Yeah, I'll say. I've done all right. 

RC: I'm going to throw out the titles of 
some of your films and you tell me the first 
thing that comes to mind — starting with 
Walking and Talking. 

JS: I'm terrible at these kinds of games, 
but looking back at the incredible intersec- 
tion of talents in that movie [Catherine 
Keener, who was nominated for an Academy 
Award this year for her role in Capote, Anne 
Heche, Liev Schreiber, and Todd Field, who 
went on to direct the critically acclaimed In 
the Bedroom], it's pretty amazing. I guess the 
word that comes to mind for that film is nos- 
talgia. 

RC: The Wedding Banquet. 

JS: It's funny, I thought that The Wedding 
Banquet would be the film that people would 
be talking about this year with Brokeback, 
and there's been so little reference to it, I've 
actually been quite surprised by that. 

RC: Do you think it's because the story 
of Brokeback has gotten lost in the flurry 
of press and hype and Oscar excitement? 

JS: On a certain level, who cares? But I 
think [The Wedding Banquet] is just not a 
frame of reference for what's happening with 
Brokeback, for any number of reasons, but 
one is because the framing of Brokeback is 
about the mainstream and what's happening 
across the country. A foreign language movie 
that did quite well on the arthouse circuit a 
decade ago is just not a reference point. 

RC: How is Brokeback Mountain spe- 
cial for you? 

JS: Not to sound like a complete idiot, but 
this is the nicest movie we've ever had to 
make. From the crew to the shoot — everyone 



40 The Independent I May/June 2006 



Focus Features' Brokeback Mountain, though denied Best Picture, 
achieved massive play for an indie film in 2006 




May/June 2006 I The Independent 41 



"Of the movies out this yeat, 

Brokeback is probably one of the 

most 'old Hollywood' of them all, 

which of course makes it look totally 

revolutionary and new." 



/ 



and everything — the whole experience was 
simply pleasant, which doesn't necessarily 
mean you're going to make a good movie. You 
can have a very pleasant experience making a 
very lousy movie. But it's the ninth film I've 
worked on with Ang, and we've both looked 
at each other and said, 'Wow, this is just more 
fun than ever.' 

RC: A good time, yeah — you got on 
'Oprah.' That's kind of crazy, isn't it? 

JS: It is. It's amazing. 

RC: Another film, Happiness. 

JS: Happiness is a real landmark movie, 
especially for us [at Good Machine] as a com- 
pany, because we ended up distributing it, and 
I really got very excited and interested with 
that aspect of the business through that expe- 
rience. But more importantly, that film 
marked a particular moment in terms of the 
growth and maturity of American independ- 
ent cinema. 

RC: The films you've worked on all seem 
to have really strong writing in common — 
how hard is it to find a great script in this 
industry? 

JS: It's hard. We focus on directors, the 
kind of auteur aspect, but none of that is pos- 
sible unless there's a screenplay. And good 
screenwriters, especially on the independent 



side, tend to also be the directors. Because if 
you're going to devote yourself to the craft of 
screenwriting, you're really writing a movie 
that only one or two people can direct, and 
that reduces your odds quite phenomenally. 

RC: What aspect of filmmaking do you 
like best? 

JS: The good news is that I'm just lucky, 
because I have such variety in what I do. If I 
was writing all day long, I'd go stir crazy. If I 
was a producer all day long, my A.D.D. 
would take over. And if I was running a stu- 
dio all day long, I'd start wearing suits. 

RC: You don't ever feel discombobulated? 

JS: Stretched, yes, but not discombobulat- 
ed. It's all working toward the same goal, 
which is getting movies made that we like. 

RC: And there's no end in sight for great 
movies to be made. Whose work do you 
admire, and who might you like to work 
with in the future, or do you not think in 
those terms? 

JS: Yeah, I don't really think in those terms. 
I think this has been an incredible year for 
American cinema — the kind of independent 
or specialized films that are still working 
inside the coats and conventions of main- 
stream idioms. 



RC: What do you think that says about 
our culture right now? And what might 
the fallout be? 

JS: These things, these moments, come 
and go — you can talk about them cyclically, 
although I don't know if that's the right way 
to speak about them. I do think there is a 
political side to this, frankly. It was two 
years ago that Bush got reelected, and I 
think people finally woke up and started 
making movies about that anxiety. 

RC: And anxiety is an element that 
makes for good films, right? 

JS: I think so, yes. 

RC: When you're reading through a 
script, or hearing a synopsis or an opin- 
ion of a script, what do you wait for — 
what makes you think, 'OK, this is a 



JS: Even if you hear a negative opinion 
about something, you might hear one ele- 
ment that touches your imagination. It 
could be the context, a character — it's that 
one thing, and you just never know what it 
will be. if 



42 The Independent I May/June 2006 




Dispatch from The Berlinale 
Talent Campus 



By Claus Mueller 

Helmed by Dieter Kosslick, the man 
who transformed the NRW (North 
Rhine- Westphalia, the biggest 
German state) film foundation into the 
second largest public production co-funder 
in Europe, the 2006 Berlinale featured over 
360 films in 13 sections. It included fdms 
from the Forum and the Teddy retrospec- 
tive of queer cinema, as well as around 650 
films in the European Film Market. There 
were 3,800 journalists among the 19,000 
accredited participants. Sales of film festi- 
val tickets exceeded $150,000. All just evi- 
dence that The Berlin International Film 



Festival is now one ol the largest and most 
important film festivals in the world. 

Although Berlinale's recent popularity is 
due in part to the demise of MIFED, the 
International Film and Multimedia 
Market, and to the rescheduling of the 
American Film Market to November, 
there's no question that the addition of 
new interactive components — the Talent 
Campus, the World Cinema Fund, and the 
Co-Production Market, where publishers 
pitch their properties to producers — have 
helped propel its success. 

Many would argue that the most impor- 



tant of these new programs is the weeklong 
Berlinale Talent Campus for gifted young 
filmmakers from all over the world. 
Kosslick established the Talent Campus in 
2003, and it has since become a model for 
short-term, intensive, expert training emu- 
lated by film festivals in the Ukraine, 
South Africa and India. Its uniquely large 
scale is due to Kosslicks binding skills. 
Volkswagen, the UK Film Council, the 
regional Media Board Berlin Brandenburg, 
and numerous other companies provided 
cash and in-kind support amounting to 
nearly $2 million, with a hefty proportion 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 43 



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devoted to subsidizing transportation 
and lodging for the participants. 

This year, 3,516 filmmakers from 121 
countries applied, and just 520 made it 
past the stiff competition. The winners 
identified their fields of work as directing 
(40 percent), screenwriting (21 percent) 
and editing (11 percent); the remainder 
had backgrounds in cinematography, 
production, sound design, and acting. In 
keeping with the international philoso- 
phy of the organizers, a large proportion, 
207 participants to be exact, came from 
developing countries and Eastern 
Europe. The largest contingents originat- 
ed in Germany (56), the UK (35), the 
USA (29), France (20), and Spain (20), 
with developing countries prominently 
represented by Mexico (13), India (12), 
Columbia (10), Brazil (8), Argentina (7), 
and Serbia/Montenegro (7), as well as 
Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, 
Cuba, Egypt, and Vietnam. 

Campus participants, lodged in hostels 
near the cavernous Haus der Kulturen 
der Welt (House of World Cultures) 
where many events were held, could 
choose from 80 lectures, seminars, on- 
hand demonstrations, and a never-end- 
ing slew of socials to attend. Lecturers 
included editors Jim Clark (Vera Drake, 
2004) and Angie Lam (House of Flying 
Daggers, 2004), and visiting VIPS includ- 
ed Charlotte Rampling who was the pres- 
ident of the Berlinale jury, Wim 
Wenders, Andres Veiel, Park Chan- 
Wook, Sabine Krayenbuel (editor, Mad 
Hot Ballroom, 2005), Stephen Warbeck 
(composer, Shakespeare in Love, 1998) 
and the cinematographers Anthony Dod 
Mantle (Dogville, 2003) and Christopher 
Doyle (2046, 2004). 

This year's overarching theme at Talent 
Campus was "Films on Hunger, Food 
and Taste" and each day a specific area of 
filmmaking was covered. For example, 
the pre-production day featured an 
AVID editing workshop; a discussion of 
visual styles with Mantle and Doyle; the 
UK Film Council's "Film Finance 
Workout" with Paul Trijbits; production 
design with Alissa Kolbusch and 
Johannes Sternagel; and Christoph 
Terhechte's interview with Park Chan- 
Wook. Afternoon events and seminars 
included filming with Canon equipment; 



44 The Independent I May/June 2006 




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May/June 2006 I The Independent 45 




Colin Farrell discovers The New World 




Bester Erstlings in triumph at Berlinale 2006 



the impact of taste on films; perspec- 
tives in student films, casting and max- 
imizing distribution; risk-taking by 
independents; analysis of dramaturgical 
scripts; screening and discussion of Alice 
Waters and her Delicious Revolution. 

Campus participants also had the 
opportunity to work on several collabo- 
rative projects. For the Talent Campus 
they were given press passes and told to 
interview prominent filmmakers at the 
Berlinale. A dozen talents were given 
the opportunity to submit their docu- 
mentary script to a Doc Clinic for 
review by industry professionals. In the 
Script Clinic, 15 screenwriters were 
attached to five mentors. Almost 400 of 
this year's participants applied for the 
Talent Movie of the Week, which gave 
them two weeks (they arrived a week 
early) to produce a digital short, which 
was presented on the last day of the 
Talent Campus. This year's winner was 
High Maintenance by Simon Biggs 
(UK) and Phillip Van (U.S.). Other 
awards open to Campus participants 
include the Volkswagen Score competi- 
tion, Robert Bosch Stiftung's prize for 
three joint film productions, and the 
Berlin Today Award — cash and services 
valued at about $100,000 to produce a 
short film that is related to Berlin. Last 
year 182 proposals were submitted and 
three projects were selected and pro- 
duced. The winner was Berlinball by 
Brazil's Anna Azevedo. Another oppor- 
tunity is the Talent Project Market, 
which allows for 17 filmmakers to par- 
ticipate in the Berlinale's Co- 
Production Market and, after a rigorous 
one-day training session, to pitch their 
projects to producers and financiers. 
Two 2004 projects received production 
funding and wound up selections for 
the Forum and Panorama sections of 
the 2006 Berlinale. Kosslick says the 
Talent Campus equals constant 
"Frischzellentherapie" (virgin cell thera- 
py) for the Berlinale. There have been 
close to 2,000 Talent Campus graduates 
so far, and productions by 24 grads were 
selected for the 2005 Berlinale. 

Most participants claimed the Talent 
Campus met their expectations. Then 
again it's hard to complain about free 



travel to and lodging in the politically 
and artistically rich capital of Germany. 
Rostam Persson, a 21 -year-old director 
from Upsala, Sweden, whose "aim in 
life is to make the best rock videos and 
films" was happy with the networking 
he did, and said some panels, such as 
the producing panel with Iain Smith, 
were outstanding, though others were 
below average. The worst part for 
Persson? All that German cigarette- 
smoke in closed public spaces and dur- 
ing social functions. Brooklyn-based 
director and screenwriter Neel Scott 
echoed popular sentiment when he 
complained that the Talent Campus 
had simply grown too large for suffi- 
cient discussion in seminars. Scott, 
however, came to the Campus for 
"exposure to a variety of narrative and 
aesthetic point of views" and to "learn 
how to work in the industry." Both 
goals were accomplished, he says, 
through viewing films at the Berlinale's 
Forum and Panorama sections, attend- 
ing seminars with Christopher Doyle 
and Wim Wenders, and frequent visits 
to the European Film Market. 
Ultimately, it seems, access to many 
Berlinale events was easier for the Talent 
Campus participants than for profes- 
sionals with expensive industry badges. 
Selection for the Talent Campus is an 
award in itself. Talent Campus staff 
identify "creative originality" as the 
most important determining factor for 
admittance and note that most appli- 
cants from the U.S. already have an 
impressive resume of awards, completed 
productions, and screenings of their 
work at established film festivals. Since 
both the U.S. and Europe offer exten- 
sive schooling for filmmakers, the 
Campus needs to continue to focus on 
its real value: training filmmakers from 
less-advanced countries. ~fe 



The deadline for the 2007 Talent 
Campus is November 1, 2006. 
Applications will be available on July 1, 
2006 at www. berlinale-talentcampus.de. 



46 The Independent I May/June 2006 



Tools You Can Use^ 



New cameras, software, and other goodies for 
independent filmmakers 



(and Afford) 



By Mike Curtis 

Cameras 

In addition to the sub $10,000 
HD camcorders already on the 
market (the Panasonic AG- 
HVX200, the Canon XL HI, the 
Sony HVR-Z1U, and the JVC GY- 
HD100U), there are now some 
mid-priced brethren with capabili- 
ties closer to the traditional high- 
end solutions, which can run 
$60,000 to $100,000. 

Sony previously created a low- 
end HD for sub $5000 HD cam- 
corders that use HDV with their 
HDR-FX1, HVR-Z1U, and lower 
end HDR-A1U and HDR-HC3. 
Now they are filling in the profes- 
sional middle ground with 
XDCAM HD, which doesn't need 
tape (it uses Blu-ray based discs) 
and records at three different quali- 
ty levels for MPEG-2 based 1080i 
and 1080p. The lensless camera 
bodies, which go for $17,000 or 
$25,800, are perfect for indie film- 
makers who are using the highest 
quality, 35-megabit VBR (variable 
bitrate) in 1080p24 mode 
(1920x1080 at 24 progressive 
frames per second). Assuming the 
XDCAM HD lives up to its expectations, 
its imaging chips (better than the 1/3- 
inch used by the low-end), over/under- 
crank capabilities, serious glass, and 
audio capabilities promise a beautiful 
camera for the mid-price range. 

Sony has also updated their high-end 





Film Effects in action above and below 




digital cinema camera. The venerable 
HDW-F900 is being replaced with the 
HDW-F900R, which has a new smaller 
chassis and built in HD-SDI. The cam- 
era lists for $80,000 (down from 
$105,000 — more bang, less bucks). And 
Panasonic is continuing to expand their 



720p/1080i offerings with P2 solid 
state memory cards beyond the 
AG-HVX200 with their new AJ- 
HPC2000 camcorder that records 
to P2 as well as hard drive. It is 
expected to ship later this year for 
under $30,000. Think of it as a 
tapeless Varicam. 

One new and affordable non- 
HD camcorder is the Panasonic 
SDX-900 which has recently 
dropped its price from $26,500 to 
$16,500 list. It is often referred to 
as the poor man's Digibeta with 
2/3-inch imaging chips (that's big, 
and that's good) that also does 24p 
and 16:9 (great for indie 
moviemakers). The DVCPRO50 
format's 4:2:2 color sampling 
(which means twice as much color 
information is recorded to tape 
compared to an HDV or DV cam- 
era) make it an excellent choice for 
projects when maximum dynamic 
range is required. 

But how do you edit this 24p 
HDV with your nonlinear editing 
system? Sony's Vegas 6 now claims 
support for 24p and HDV, and 
Lumiere HD enables Final Cut Pro 
editors to work with 24p HDV. 
And though it can't edit 24p HDV (as 
of this writing), Final Cut Studio for 
Intel-based Macs was released in March, 
so minis will be ready to edit with an 
Intel Duo Core chip for under $800, or 
with iMacs, which have a similar but 
speedier processor starting under 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 47 





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Si 300, or with a MacBook Pro starting 
at $2000. Any of these (properly upgrad- 
ed of course) could be a good low-budg- 
et, light-editing system for all FireWire- 
based tape formats. DV/DVCAM/ 
DVCPRO, DVCPRO50, HDV, and 
DVCPRO HD could all be captured and 
edited at full quality with these systems, 
and there is now a low-cost crossgrade for 
all of the folks that only own a part of the 
Final Cut Studio or Production Bundle. 

Software 

VideoSpace is another very cool (and 
free!) tool new this that month allows 
you to find out how much drive space 
you will need for a given video project. 
The great little Mac OS X widget (for OS 
X 10.4 and higher) from Digital Heaven 
(digitalheaven.co.uk) gives you handy 
pop-ups that detail media format (DV, 
HDV, uncompressed, SD, HD, etc.), 
frame rate, time, and drive space. 
VideoSpace can calculate time from 
megabytes and vice versa. I keep it on my 
laptop so when a client asks how much 
space they'll need for editing or postpro- 
duction, I can answer in seconds... and 



LumiereHD (above) Canon XLH1 (left) 

look super-smart at the same time. (Even if 
the post process involves finishing with 
another codec, frame rate, or format, it 
never hurts to look good in front of a 
client.) 

Instant HD from the creators of Magic 
Bullet is a plugin to up-rez SD to HD on 
an HD timeline — great for when you 
need to mix standard and high definition 
video on the same timeline. Video gurus 
have learned that DV captured over SDI 
looks better than video captured over 
FireWire. Not everyone knows, however, 
the reason for this — color sampling and 
color aliasing. Now there are plugins such 
as those from Nattress that will do chroma 
smoothing to make your FireWire-cap- 
tured footage look better. They can also 
perform other useful tricks to make your 
video look its best, like deinterlacing, for- 
mat conversions (PAL/NTSC/24p). 
Several packages are available and all are 
less than $100. 

Other Goodies 

After P+S Technik got everyone excit- 
ed about the ability to create a shallow 
depth of field with a DV camera and 
their Mini35 product, the new Letus 35 
is a low-cost ($300) adaptor that uses 
35mm lenses on a DV camera such as the 
XL1 or DVX100. It may not live up to 
the quality needs of every project, but it's 
incredibly affordable. 

More information about these products 
and others can be found on Mike Curtis' 
website www.HDforIndies.com. 



48 The Independent I May/June 2006 



R 



ESTIVALS 




ACTION/CUT SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, 

Aug. 29-Sept. 1, CA. Deadline: March 15; 
May 15 (final). Cats: short, any style or 
genre. Awards: $35,000 in cash & servic- 
es. Preview on DVD or VHS. Entry Fee: 
$40-$85. Contact: Action/ Cut Filmmaking 
Seminars; filmmaking@actioncut.com; 
www.actioncut.com. 

FIRST SUNDAYS COMEDY FILM FES- 
TIVAL Deadline: ongoing. A monthly 
festival featuring the best in comedy 
and short film/digi/animation followed 
by an after-screening networking event. 
An ongoing festival held the first Sunday 
of each month at the Pioneer Theater in 
New York, First Sundays is the premiere 
opportunity to showcase work and 
meet talented directors and other indie 
dv/film folk. Cats: short (under 20 mm.), 
comedy, animation/dv/film. Formats: 
Mini-DV, DVD, VHS. Entry Fee: $20. 
Contact: (email) film® 

chicagocitylimits.com or (website) 
www.firstsundays.com. 



HOT SPRINGS DOC FILM FESTIVAL, 

Oct. 20-29, AR. Deadline: April 7; May 
19 (final). Annual fest accepting nonac- 
tion film submissions for one of the 
country's premier nonfiction film cele- 
brations. Noncompetitive fest honors 
films & filmmakers each yr. in beautiful 
Hot Springs Nat'l Park, Arkansas. More 
than 85 films are screened, incl. the cur- 
rent year's Academy Award nominees in 
nonfiction cats. Special guest scholars, 
filmmakers & celebrities participate in 
forums & lectures. Founded: 1992. 
Cats: doc, short, feature. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, 1/2", DVD, Beta. Preview 
on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $25-$55. 
Contact: Darla Dixon, HSDFI; (501) 321- 
4747; fax: (501) 321-0211; 

ddixon@sdfi.org; www.hsdfi.org. 

IFP MARKET, Sept. 17-21, NY. Deadline: 
May 1: Rolling deadlines begin. Annual 
event is the longest-running U.S. market 
devoted to new, emerging film talent. 
The market presents new film & TV 



works in development directly to the 
industry. Hundreds of financiers, distribu- 
tors, buyers, development execs, fest 
programmers, & agents from the U.S. & 
abroad attend the IFP Market. Market 
filmmakers receive access to these 
industry executives via targeted net- 
working meetings, pitch sessions, 
screenings, & more. Cats: feature, doc, 
work-in-progress, short, script. Awards: 
More than $150,000 in cash & prizes 
awarded to emerging artists, incl. two 
$10,000 Gordon Parks Awards for 
Emerging African-American filmmakers. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta, DigiBeta, 
. Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $40- 
$50 application fee; Registration fees 
(paid on acceptance only): $200 - $450. 
Contact: Pooja Kohli; (212) 465-8200; 
fax: 465-8525; marketreg@ifp.org; 
www.ifp.org/market28. 

KANSAS CITY GAY & LESBIAN FILM 
+ VIDEO FESTIVAL, July 20-27, MO. 
Deadline: See Website. Largest LGBT 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 49 



film fest in the Midwest accepts 
films/videos of all types & lengths. 
Cats: feature, doc, short, any style or 
genre. Preview on VHS, DVD. Entry Fee: 
Shorts: $15, $25 (final); features: $25, 
$35 (final). Contact: Festival; 816-931- 
0738; lisaevans@kcgayfilmfest.org; 
www.kcgayfilmfest.org. 

KANSAS INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, Sept 
15-21, KS. Deadline: March 31; April 30; 
May 30 (final). The fest is a celebration 
of independent cinema & features a 
Think! series of socially conscious doc- 
umentaries, experimental works, for- 
eign films, & American indies. All films 
screen in beautifully restored theatres 
operated by the Fine Arts Theatre Group 
in the Greater Kansas City area. The 
Lucid Underground Short Film competi- 
tion curated w/ a 'punk tenacity' also 
screens during KIFF Cats: doc, feature, 
short, experimental. Awards: Audience 
awards; $250 cash prizes in each cate- 
gory. Formats: 35mm, DV Cam. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $30; 
$40 (final). Contact: Dotty Hamilton; 
(816) 501-3646; info@kansasfilm.com, 
lucidunderground.com; www.kansas 
film.com. 

MADCAT WOMEN'S INT'L FILM 
FESTIVAL, September, CA. Deadline: 
March 24;May 15 (final). The 10th Annual 
MadCat Film Festival seeks provocative 
& visionary films & videos directed or co- 
directed by women. Films can be of any 
length or genre & produced ANY year. 
MadCat is committed to showcasing 
work that challenges the use of sound & 
image & explores notions of visual story 
telling. All subjects/topics will be consid- 
ered. Founded: 1996. Cats: any style or 
genre. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, super 8, 
Beta SP 1/2", Mini-DV Preview on VHS or 
DVD. Entry Fee: $10-$30 (sliding scale, 
pay what you can afford). Contact: 
Festival; (415) 436-9523; fax: 934-0642; 
info@madcatfilmfestival.org; www.mad 
catfilmfestival.org. 

MILWAUKEE INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, 

Oct. 19-29, Wl. Deadline: TBA. Cats: 



feature, doc, short, experimental, ani- 
mation. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, DVD, 
Mini-DV, Beta SP Entry Fee: $10-$70. 
Contact: Festival; (414) 225-9740; pro 
gram@milwaukeefilmfest.org; 
www.milwaukeefilmfest.org. 

NAPA SONOMA WINE COUNTRY 
FILM FESTIVAL, July - August 2006, 
dates TBD. Deadline, May 15, 2006 
(final). Accepting shorts, docum- 
entaries and feature films. Festival fea- 
tures several competitions in numerous 
categories, outdoor screenings, a pleas- 
ant environment, and plenty of wine! 
Awards include Best First Feature 
Prizes (domestic and international), 
Best Short in various categories, David 
L. Wolper Documentary Film Prizes and 
Audience Choice Awards. Also Special 
Awards include the Jack London 
Screenplay Award, WCFF Humanitarian 
Award and the Margrit and Robert 
Mondavi Film Prize for Peace and 
Cultural Understanding. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, DV and video. VHS, DVD 
or DV Cam for preview. NTSC preferred, 
but PAL previews acceptable. Contact: 
Napa Sonoma Wine Country Film 
Festival T 707-935. FILM F: 707- 
996.6964. Address: 12000 Henno Road 
PO. Box 303 Glen Ellen, 
CA 95442; wcfilmfest@aolocom 
www.winecountryfilm fest.com/. 

NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL From 

the NOFF website: "Unlike many film 
fests, we bring films to the New 
Orleans market that would not ordinari- 
ly be screened here. The fest also pro- 
vides video mentoring sessions & 
industry panels for local filmmakers. In 
spite of our losses due to Hurricane 
Katrina, we are determined to resume 
programming in the near future. Our 
staff will continue to work w/out pay, & 
our board members are volunteering 
their time & efforts. We plan to present 
an abbreviated 2005 fest in early 2006, 
& w/ your help, we will present a full 
fest in the fall of 2006" See website to 
make a donation. Annual fest features 
premieres, classic film retros, panel dis- 



cussions & gala events. Entries of all 
lengths & genres, incl. music videos, 
welcome. Entries must be completed 
after Jan. of previous year. Founded: 
1990. Cats: Any style or genre, 
Animation, Doc, Experimental, Short, 
Feature, Student, Music Video. Awards: 
Awards based on jury selection, given 
in each genre, Grand Jury Prize, & 
Louisiana Filmmaker Prize. Formats: 
1/2", 35mm (by invitation only), Beta, 
35mm, DVD. Preview on VHS or DVD. 
Entry Fee: $40; $45 (final). Contact: 
Elisa Gallinot; (504) 523-3818; fax: 782- 
5792; incompetition@neworleansfilm 
fest.com; www.neworleansfilmfest.com. 

PORT TOWNSEND FILM FESTIVAL, 

Sept. 15-17, WA. Deadline: TBA/See 
Website. Festival aims to showcase 
independent filmmakers & films to pro- 
vide creative activity for the public along 
w/ periodic classes & seminars. The 
emphasis is on providing a creative 
experience & promoting films. 
Founded: 2000. Cats: feature, doc, 
short, animation. Awards: Cash awards 
for Best Narrative Feature ($2500), Best 
Doc Feature ($2500), Best Short ($750), 
Best Doc Short ($750). Also Audience 
Favorite Award. Formats: S-VHS, Beta 
SR 35mm. Preview on VHS (PAL, NTSC) 
or DVD. Entry Fee: $15-$45. Contact: 
PTFF; (360) 379-1333; fax: 379-3996; 
info@ptfilmfest.com; www.ptfilm 

fest.com. 

RHODE ISLAND INTERNATIONAL 
FILM FESTIVAL, August 8-13, 2006. 
Main Deadlines: May 15 2006/ June 1, 
2006/ June 15, 2006 (final). A broadly 
focused New England festival that 
accepts all types (dramatic, docs, ani- 
mation), subject matter, and genre. 
Recognized by the Academy of Motion 
Picture Arts and Sciences as a qualify- 
ing festival for the Short Films Category 
for the Academy Awards. Festival aims 
to highlight significant achievements in 
cinema and help independent filmmak- 
ers find wider markets. Formats: 
35mm, HDCam, Betacam SP & DVD. 
Entries for adjudication must be sub- 



50 The Independent I May/June 2006 



mitted on a 1/2" DVD (NTSC). 35mm 
must have composite optical sound- 
tracks. Entry Fee: $40 Contact: Rhode 
Island International Film Festival™ PO 
Box 162 Newport, Rl 02840 USA Street 
Address: 96 Second Street, Newport, 
Rl 02840 401/861-4445. fax: 401/847- 
7590 info@film-festival.org. 

WOODS HOLE FILM FESTIVAL, July 
29-Aug. 5, MA. Deadline: April 1; May 
15 (final). A showcase for independent 
film w/ special emphasis on regional 
filmmakers & cinematography. 
Founded: 1991. Cats: feature, doc, 
short, animation, experimental, script. 
Awards: Best of the Fest, Best feature: 
drama, comedy, documentary; Short: 
drama, comedy, animation, documen- 
tary, experimental; Director's Choice 
Award for Cinematography. Formats: 
16mm, 35mm, Beta SR DVD, DigiBeta. 
Preview on VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: fea- 
tures: $40, $50 (final); shorts (under 40 
min.): $20, $30 (final). Contact: JC 
Bouvier; (508) 495-3456; info@woods 
holefilm festival.org; www.woodshole 
filmfesti val.org. 

INTERNATIONAL 

ANTIMATTER: UNDERGROUND FILM 
FESTIVAL, Sept. 22-30, Canada. 
Deadline: April 15; May 31 (final). Annual 
int'l fest seeks "imaginative, volatile, 
entertaining & critical" films & videos. 
Antimatter is "dedicated to cinema as art 
vs. product, regardless of the subversive 
or dangerous nature of its content, stylis- 
tic concerns or commercial viability" 
Selected works may be included in 
upcoming int'l tours. Industrial, commer- 
cial & studio products ineligible. Max 30 
min., completed w/in past two years. 
Founded: 1998. Cats: any style or genre, 
short. Formats: 1/2", 16mm, DVD, Mini- 
DV, Super 8. Preview on VHS, DVD. Entry 
Fee: $10; $20 (final). Contact: Todd 
Eacrett, Director; (250) 385-3327; 
fax: 385-3327; info@antimatter.ws; 
www.antimatter.ws. 

EDINBURGH INT'L FILM FESTIVAL, 




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NOTES 

FROM THE 



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Because the INSIDE knows film, story, script from the inside out. 
And that means a more professional, successful project for you. 




We are industry specialists in film, story, and script development, 
and offer a wide range of creative consulting and development 
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Credentials include 

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May/June 2006 I The Independent 51 



54th Annual 



The most distinguished, 

longest-running 
competition of its kind. 




COLUMBUS 

INTERNATIONAL 

Film & Video 
FESTIVAL 



LLP 
TRI 



Entry Deadline 
July 1,2006 



Please visit 

iv.chrisawards.i 

to download an 

entry form. | 

info@chrisa- - 



1430 South High Street 

Suite 322 

Columbus, OH 

43207 



Aug. 14-27, June 9 (animation, music 
videos, commercials) . Fest of discovery, 
celebration of cinema, centre of debate, 
& catalyst for new directors & first 
films. Began in 1947 as a doc film fest 
& is particularly interested in non-fic- 
tion; all films must be UK priemeres. 
Films must be no older than 18 months 
from August 2006. Founded: 1947 
Cats: Feature, Short, Animation, 
Experimental, doc, youth media, com- 
mercial, music video. Awards: Awards 
go to Best New British Feature, Best 
British Animation plus Standard Life 
Audience Award, Channel Four 
Director's Award, Observer Doc Award 
& Pathe Performance Award. Audience 
vote for Best Gala Film & Best 
Animation. McLaren award for best 
new animation: cash prize. Formats: 
70mm, 35mm, 16mm, Beta SP Preview 
on VHS. Entry Fee: £10-£80. Contact: 
Shane Danielsen, Director; 44 131 
228 4051; fax: 229 5501; info@edfilm 
fest.org.uk; www.edfilm fest.org.uk. 

MILANO FILM FESTIVAL, September , 
Italy. Deadline: May 31. Annual fest 
invites features films & shorts (under 45 
min.) from anyone who'd like to 
"invent, build, & destroy new ideas of 
cinema." Open to all entries produced 
after January 1 , 2005. Cats: any style or 



genre, feature, doc, short, animation, 
experimental, music video, student. 
Awards: Awards incl. Aprile Award. 
Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 8mm, DV, Beta 
SP 1/2". Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
none. Contact: Festival; 011 39 02 713 
613; info@milanofilmfestival.it; 

www.milanofilmfestival.it. 

PLANET FOCUS: TORONTO 

ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL, 

Nov. 1-5, Canada. Deadline: April 15; 
May 15. Fest recognizes that the "envi- 
ronment" is contested terrain, there- 
fore invites submissions in all genres 
that critically examine the concept of 
"environment" & challenge current 
human/nature relations. Additionally, 
the fest pays special consideration to 
works that push the boundaries of the 
accepted notions of 'environment'; 
works that present cultural perspec- 
tives that are under-represented in 
Canada & works that will have their 
world or Canadian premiere at fest. 
Cats: any style or genre. Formats: 
35mm, 16mm, Beta SP (PAL or NTSC), 
DigiBeta. VHS or DVD. Entry Fee: $15; 
$20 (final). Contact: Festival; (416) 
531-1769; info@planetinfocus.org; 

www.planetinfocus.org. 

SUNNY SIDE OF THE DOC MARKET 



52 The Independent I May/June 2006 



R 



ESTIVALS 



June 27-23, France. Deadline: See 
Website/TBA. Annual market brings 
together ind. producers, distributors, 
commissioning editors, heads of TV 
programming depts & buyers from all 
over the world. Attended by some 539 
companies from 35 countries, 183 buy- 
ers & commissioning editors & 120 TV 
channels. Market provides opportuni- 
ties for project development & meeting 
partners w/ Side-by-Side sessions (one- 
on-one meetings w/ commissioning 
editors for adce on projects). Founded: 
1990. Cats: doc. Preview on VHS. 
Contact: Pole Media Belle de Mai ; 011 
33 4 95 04 44 80; fax: 33 4 91 84 38 34; 
contact@sunnysideofthedoc.com; 
www.sunnysideofthedoc.com. 

TAORMINA BNL FILM FESTIVAL, July 
22-29, Italy. Deadline: April 15. Cats: fea- 
ture. Contact: Enrico Ghezzi; 39 9422- 
1142; fax: 39 9422-3348; info@taoarte.it; 
www.taorminafilmfest.it. 

UNITED NATIONS ASSOCIATION 
FILM FESTIVAL, October 25-29, 
Stanford University. Deadline: June 1 
(final). This festival, in its ninth year, cel- 
ebrates films dealing with human 
rights, the environment, racism, war 
and peace, poverty, and similar issues. 
Cats: All genres and lengths. Formats: 



16mm and 35mm, 1/2", Beta SP DVD, 
PAL/NTSC; preview on 1/2" VHS 
(PAL/NTSC), DVD (NTSC region or 1). 
Entry fee: $25 up to 30 min, $35 for 
films over 30 min. Contact: (650) 
724-5544; Fax: (650) 725-0011 
info@unaff.org; www.unaff.org/2006/. 

VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM 
FESTIVAL, September 28 - October 13, 
2006, British Columbia, Canada. 
Deadline July 3rd (final). The Vancouver 
International Film Festival aims to 
encourage international understanding 
through cinema, as well as foster the 
art by facilitating a dialogue between 
cinema professionals from around the 
world. Organizers plan for a program of 
200 films from 50 countries. Cats: fea- 
tures and medium length (over 30 min.) 
Formats: 16mm, 35mm, 70mm, NTSC, 
PAL, BetaSP DigiBeta, DV Cam. HD 
Cam. Entry Fee: US$40 Contact: 1181 
Seymour St, Vancouver, BC, CANADA 
V6B 3M7 Ph. 604-685-0260 Fx. 604- 
688-8221 E. viff@viff.org; www.viff.org. 

VANCOUVER QUEER FILM & VIDEO 
FESTIVAL, August 7-17, Canada. 
Deadline: April 3. Annual event screens 
both int'l & local Canadian films & 
videos of interest to the lesbian, gay, 
bisexual, & transgendered communi- 



ties. Festival screens work of all lengths 
& genres & incls. panels, workshops, & 
receptions providing a forum for the 
development of dialogue between 
LGBT people of all ethnicities, cultures, 
ages, abilities, & gender definitions. 
Fees paid for independent work 
screened. Founded: 1989. Cats: any 
style or genre. Awards: Cash awards; 
audience awards.. Formats: 35mm, 
16mm, 1/2", Beta SP DV. Preview on 
VHS, NTSC only. Entry Fee: None. 
Contact: Michael Barrett, Director of 
Programming; (604) 844-1615; fax: 844- 
1698; general@outonscreen.com; 

www.outonscreen.com. 

WELLINGTON FILM FESTIVAL/ 
AUCKLAND INT'L FILM FESTIVAL July 
13-30, New Zealand. Deadline: April 15. 
Noncompetitive fest, w/ a core program 
of 120 features (& as many shorts), fest 
simultaneously presents Auckland & 
Wellington Film Festivals & programs 
that travel to cities of Dunedin & 
Christchurch & other cities throughout 
New Zealand. Founded: 1972. Cats: 
Feature, Short. Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
Beta SP Preview on VHS. Entry Fee: 
None. Contact: Bill Gosden; 011 64 4 385 
0162; fax: 801 7304; entries@nzff.co.nz; 
www.nzff.co.nz. 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 53 



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AMAZEFILMS is constantly looking for fea- 
ture films and short films to include in its 
programming. We welcome filmmakers 
and writers to send us their work for con- 
sideration free of charge. If you feel that 
your short film, feature film or documentary 
film that you have produced would make a 
good addition to the AmazeFilms program- 
ming, please fill out the film submission 
form: www.amazefilms.com/submissions. 

BIG FILM SHORTS is a film distribution 
company that specializes in short films, as 
well as other media and formats. We serve 
both as sales agents for filmmakers with 
whom we have contracts and as consultants 
for film bookers and programmers, drawing 
on the films in our catalog as well as films 
we select from third-party sources. The core 
of our business is our film library, which con- 
tains shorts in a variety of genres, lengths, 
formats and national origins. A great many of 
our films were popular favorites and award 
winners at Sundance, Tellunde, Cannes and 
other leading film festivals in the United 
States and around the world. 

COMEDY EXPRESS TV seeks funny films 
under 7 min. to show and promote on tele- 
vision. Please look at our website 



www.comedyexpresstv.com which gives 
more background as well as the online 
release which MUST accompany all sub- 
missions. Contact: Adam Gilad 9229 
Sunset Blvd LA, CA 90069 
adamgilad@mac.com; 310 271 0023. 

FOOTAGE REQUEST The annual Avid 
Show Reel features clips from the most 
innovative commercials, documentaries, 
music videos, feature films, television pro- 
grams, and more from around the globe. 
And all created with Avid editing systems 
and/or Softimage animation software. It's a 
great, free way to get valuable exposure 
throughout the year — from NAB in Las 
Vegas to IBC in Amsterdam. For details, 
see www.avid.com/footage/. 

GLOBAL VILLAGE STOCK FOOTAGE If 

you are a producer owning the rights to 
high quality betacam footage that may be 
of interest to other producers, we will add 
your material to our database at no charge 
to you. We will pay 50% of the royalties we 
collect for the licensing of your footage. In 
most cases we need to have first genera- 
tion copies or field masters at our facility to 
ensure rapid delivery to clients. We also 
prefer footage or programs that are logged 
by computer so we can readily add the 
footage descriptions to our database. For 
more information send us an instant E-mail 
or call: 1. 800. 798-FIND or 1.707823-1451 or 
fax us at 1.707829-9542. 

GOOGLE VIDEO UPLOAD PROGRAM is 

accepting digital video files of any length 
and size. Simply sign up for an account and 
upload your videos using our Video 
Uploader (you must own the rights to the 
works you upload), and, pending our 
approval process and the launch of this 
new service, we'll include your video in 
Google Video, where users will be able to 
search, preview, purchase and play it. 
https://upload.video.google.com/. 

THE MOUNTAIN FUND at wwwmoun- 
tainfund.org is looking for works that edu- 
cate about issues affecting people in moun- 
tainous regions of the world. We want to 
add such content to our site to educate our 



visitors. If you are willing to have your 
works on our site. Please contact us. 

NATURAL HEROES is a Public Television 
series featuring independently produced 
films and videos. We're searching for com- 
pelling stories that feature people challeng- 
ing current environmental standards and 
conditions. Accepted works will be pack- 
aged for broadcast and distributed to Public 
Television stations across the country. 
There are no fees, contracts are non-exclu- 
sive, and any viewers interested in pur- 
chasing your film would be sent directly to 
you. Download the Submission Form and 
Call for Entries from www.natural- 
heroestv.org Questions? Email natural 
heroes@krcb.org or phone 707-585-8522 
x124. 

UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF 
COLUMBIA TV is looking for strong, origi- 
nal, quality educational and artistic pro- 
gramming for 2006. Submissions are wel- 
comed from across the globe— from pro- 
duction companies, community organiza- 
tions, NGOs, filmmakers, students and 
artists- from November 2005 through April 
2006 in the following categories: Conflicts 
and Rights, Caring for the elderly, the sick, 
the disabled, and Street Arts. Films must 
have been completed after 1/1/98 and can 
be from 10 to 90 min. long. For details and 
submission form. For submission form and 
further information go to www.udc.edu 
/cable_tv_19/about_cabletv_19.htm or 
devans-pritchard@udc.edu. 

THE DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL is a new 

digital cable channel dedicated to airing, 
exclusively, the works of the independent 
documentary filmmaker. There isn't a single 
type of documentary that they will not 
show, and they are not afraid of controver- 
sy. That said, they prefer the edgier, more 
personal films that tell a story and that 
show something in a unique, visual man- 
ner. See the website for submission 
instructions. Submissions accepted on a 
rolling basis. Please visit http://documen- 
tary channel.com/index.htm for more infor- 
mation or email programs@documen 
tarychannel.com. 



54 The Independent I May/June 2006 



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COMPETITIONS 

SHORT FILM SLAM, NYC's only weekly 
short film competition, is looking for sub- 
missions. Competition on Sundays at 2 p.m. 
At the end of each show the audience votes 
for a winning film, which receives further 
screenings at the Pioneer Theater. To enter, 
you must have a film, 30 min. or less, in a 
35mm, l6mm, BetaSP, VHS, or DVD for- 
mat. To submit your film, stop by the 
Pioneer Theater (155 E. 3rd St.) during 
operating hours, call (212) 254-7107, or visit 
www.twoboots.com/pioneer for more 
information. 

HOLLYWOOD GATEWAY SCREEN- 
WRITING CONTEST: The mission of the 
Hollywood Gateway Screenwriting Contest 
is to guide aspiring writers to their success 
through opportunity, mentoring and unpar- 
alleled access to Hollywood decision mak- 
ers. $5,000 Cash prize and an initial 12- 
month option agreement against a potential 
$100,000 purchase price, among other 
prizes. Early Entries February 28th, 2005 - 
Special Early Bird Entry Cost $35.00. 
Contest Deadline April 30th, 2005 - Entry 
Cost $40.00 Late Entrany June 30th, 2005 - 
Entry Cost $50.00. Type of Material: 
Screenplays 80-140 pages. International 
entries written in English are welcome. For 
more information go to www. holly 
woodgateway.com/details.php 

THE PIONEER THEATER— NYC's show- 
case of independent cinema. Always on the 
lookout for new movies to screen. To sub- 



mit for a public screening, check out: 
www.twoboots.com/pioneer/submit.htm 

CONFERENCES /WORKSHOPS 

RAW WORD READINGS, a monthly read- 
ings series seeks 10-page excerpts from 
original screenplays. Up-and-coming actors 
perform 10 pages of work by up-and-com- 
ing screenwriters at Galapagos Art Space in 
Brooklyn, and Rock Candy (performance 
space) in NY Once a month. Please submit 
your pdf or word file, 10 compelling pages 
of material (include the title in the file- 
name) for consideration rawwordread 
ings@yahoo.com. 



VOLUNTEER LAWYERS FOR THE 
ARTS: offer seminars on "Copyright 
Basics," "Nonprofit Incorporation & Tax 
Exemption" & more. Reservations must be 
made. Contact: (212) 319-2910 x. 9. 

24TH STREET WRITERS GROUP seeking 
new members - Monday Nights. Well estab- 
lished Manhattan based screenwriting 
group is seeking committed new members 
for Monday evening meetings. If interested 
in being considered for membership, 
please send a 30 page writing sample in 
PDF format to the24thstwriters@aol.com. 

RESOURCES/ FUNDS 

EXPERIMENTAL TV CENTER offers 
grants & presentation funds to electronic 
media/film artists & organizations. Program 
provides partial assistance; maximum 
amount varies. Presentations must be open 
to public; limited-enrollment workshops & 
publicly supported educational institutions 
ineligible. Appl. reviewed monthly. 
Deadline: on-going . Contact: Program Dir., 
ETVC, 109 Lower Fairfield Rd., Newark 
Valley, NY 13811; (607) 687-4341; 
www.experimentaltvcenter.org 

FISCAL SPONSORSHIP Film Forum is 
accepting applications for fiscal sponsor- 
ship from filmmakers. Film Forum retains 
5% of all funds received on a project's 
behalf from foundations, corporations and 
individuals. To apply, email a cover letter, 
project description, bios of project leaders 
and proposed project budget to Dominick 



Balletta at dominick@filmforum.org. 
Dominick Balletta/ General Manager/ FILM 
FORUM/ 209 West Houston Street/ NYC 
10014/ 212.627.2035. 

THE FUND FOR WOMEN ARTISTS is a 

non-profit organization dedicated to help- 
ing women get the resources they need to 
do their creative work. We focus on 
women using their art to address social 
issues, especially women in theatre, film, 
and video, and we have two primary goals: 
To Challenge Stereotypes - We support the 
creation of art that reflects the full diversity 
and complexity of women's lives. To 
Increase Opportunities - We advocate for 
women artists to be paid fairly and to have 
more opportunities to make a living from 
their creative work. To learn more about 
our work, and to sign up to receive these 
funding newsletters, visit our web page at: 
www.WomenArts.org. 

IFP MARKET Are you seeking financing or 
a producer for your script? Completion 
funds or distribution for your documentary? 
Looking to expand your contact list? The 
IFP Market is a great place to begin: the 
only selective forum in the US to introduce 
new work to an industry-only audience of 
sales companies, fest programmers, distrib- 
utors, broadcasters, producers and agents 
from the US and abroad. Rolling deadlines 
begin May 1. Application fees and 
Attendance fee upon acceptance as well as 
other details can be found online at 
www.ifp.org starting March 1. For more 
details call 212-465-8200 x 222 or email 
marketreg@ifp.org 

THE LEEWAY FOUNDATION, which sup- 
ports individual women artists, arts pro- 
grams, and arts organizations in the Greater 
Philadelphia region, has announced the Art 
and Change Grants provide immediate, 
short-term grants of up to $2,500 to women 
artists in the Philadelphia region who need 
financial assistance to take advantage of 
opportunities for art and change. The 
artist's opportunity for change must be 
supported by or be in collaboration with a 
Change Partner — a person, organization, 
or business that is providing the opportuni- 
ty or is a part of the opportunity in some 
way. Eligible Change Partners include men- 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 55 



tors, editors, galleries, community art 
spaces, theaters, nonprofit organizations, 
film studios, and clubs. (Art and Change 
Grant Deadlines: April 11. June 20. and 
October 31. 2005.) Visit the Leeway 
Foundation Web site for grantmaking 
guidelines and application forms. 

THE PACIFIC PIONEER FUND supports 
emerging documentary filmmakers — 
Limited to organizations anywhere in the 
US, certified by the IRS as "public chari- 
ties", which undertake to supervise any 
project for which individuals receive funds, 
and to control the selection of individual 
recipients of funds. The fund does not pro- 
vide support for endowments, building 
campaigns, accumulated deficits, or ordi- 
nary operating budgets, or make grants to 
individuals. The fund does not support 
instructional or performance documen- 
taries or student film projects. Grants are 
limited to filmmakers or videographers 
who live and work in California. Oregon 
and Washington. Approximately 

SI. 100.000. Applications are accepted on 
an ongoing basis. Application deadlines in 
2005-06 are 1 2 06 and 5 1 06. Print out an 
application from the web site 
Ihttp: www.pacificpioneeifund.coni ] and 
send it . along with a VHS tape of up to 10 
minutes of edited footage from the project 
for which support is sought, to P.O. Box 
20504. Stanford. CA 94309. If you have 
questions, email Armin Rosencranz: 
armin@stanford.edu. For urgent questions. 
phone 650-996-3122. 

THE STANDBY PROGRAM assists indi- 
viduals and organizations in the creatio- 
nand preservation of work by offering 
high-end video, film, audio and digitalme- 
dia post-production services at affordable 
rates, video and audio tapepreservation. 
and restoration sen ices, technical consulta- 
tion and fiscalsponsorship. For additional- 
information: visit www. standby. org or call 
(212) 206-7858. 

WGBH LAB. a program of PBS affiliate 
W'GBH Boston, invites independent film- 
makers and innovators from related indus- 
tries to produce or post-produce an inde- 



pendently funded film for a six- to nine- 
month residency at WGBH from September 
to May. The Filmmaker-in-Residence grants 
WGBH a right of first refusal on new pro- 
posals, finished programs and or program 
concepts for local or national broadcast or 
development. The Filmmaker-in-Residence 
will curate or participate in screenings and 
portfolio sessions with W'GBH colleagues 
The Filmmaker-in-Residence program is 
open to independent filmmakers and pro- 
ducers from related industries such as com- 
mercial television, feature films, advertis- 
ing, Web. or animation. New England area 
residents are given priority. See 
http: main.wgbh.org wgbh producing- 
fortv index.html for details. 

KQED-TV IN SAN FRANCISCO like most 
local PBS affiliates provides in-kind post- 
production assistance to a number of inde- 
pendent projects each year. Subject must 
be compelling & of interest to KQED's 
viewers, or attract new audiences. Material 
must pass technical evaluation for broad- 
cast quality. Producer must supply rough 
cut for review. KQED also takes on a num- 
ber of co-productions each year. For more 
info, call (415) 553-2X59 or go to 
www .kqed.org tv indieproducers . 

SCHOLARSHIP FUND fur Women 
Filmmakers $20,000 scholarship offered by 
Muse Media. San Francisco Women's Film 
Festival forms relationship with Muse 
Media to support women filmmakers to 
complete their films. For more information 
about how to qualify for the scholarship 
contact: scholarship@wornensfilmfestival.us 
Visit womensfilmfestival.us. 

THE TEXAS FILMMAKERS' PRODUC- 
TION FUND is an annual grant awarded to 
emerging film and video artists in the state 
of Texas. Funded through revenues from 
benefit film premieres and private and cor- 
porate donations, the TFPF is our effort to 
redress the loss of public funds for film- 
makers. Application available at 
www.austinfilm.org tfpf in March. 2006. 



MICROCINEMAS / 
SCREENINGS 

911 MEDIA ARTS CENTER was incor- 
porated in 1984 and is considered 
Washington State's premier Media Arts 
Center. 911 screenings are booked quar- 
terly. Submissions are accepted on a 
rolling basis. Quarterly deadlines are as 
follows: Spring -> Last day of February. 
Summer -> Last day of May. Fall -> Last 
day of August. Winter -> Last day of 
November. Submission Address: 
Screenings Committee /911 Media Arts 
Center 402 9th Ave N. / Seattle, 
WA 98109 . (206) 682-6552/ 
info@91 lmedia.org. 

FILM AND VIDEO 825 Series of bi- 
monthly screenings of locally, nationally 
and internationally recognized film and 
video artists' work, providing a forum for 
presenting experimental film and video in 
Los Angeles. In a city dominated by 
Hollywood, venues such as ours become 
a necessity for artists working in time- 
based media that is outside the main- 
stream of narrative cinema. Our curatorial 
vision is open to both shorts and features 
in experimental, performance, animation, 
and documentary forms. Film Video 825, 
Gallery 825 IAAA, 825 N. La Cienega Blvd., 
Los Angeles. CA 90069. T: (310) 652-8272, 
F: (310) 652-9251. galleiy825@laaa.org, 
www.laaa.i Kg calendar film_video.html 

BROADCAST/ CABLECAST 

AXLEGREASE PUBLIC ACCESS 
CABLE SHOW Tuesdays at 2:00 PM on 
Channel 20 Become part of current media 
making history and submit your media 
work to be shown on TV. on our leg- 
endary public access cable show. 
Commercial free, 100% media art TV. 
Provide us with mini-dv, vhs. svhs. or 
8mm video (ntsc) tapes with a ninning 
time of 28 min. or less. Your work may 
also be displayed in our storefront win- 
dow. Your entry will become a part of 
our Member Viewing Library unless you 
include an SASE. Axlegrease is open to 
local and international artists. Send tapes 



56 The Independent I May/June 2006 



Attention: Axlegrease. Formats accepted: 
mini-dv, s-vhs, vhs or dvd. Please visit 
www.squeaky.org/opportunities.htmkong 
oing for more information. 

DUTV, A progressive, nonprofit education- 
al channel in Philadelphia seeks works by 
indie producers. All genres & lengths con- 
sidered. Will return tapes. BetaSP, DV, dvd 
accepted for possible cablecast. Contact: 
Debbie Rudman, DUTV, 31-41 Chestnut St., 
Bldg 9B, Rm 0C)16.Philadelphia, PA 19104; 
(215) 895-2927; dutv@drexel.edu; 

www.dutv.org. 

GET YOUR FILM SHOWN ON SKY! 

Propeller TV is the new national channel 
for film and television talent, to launch in 
the new year on SKY. The Film First strand 
of the channel is looking for short films of 
any length and genre. You don't have to be 
Spielberg to be considered for the channel, 
you could be an independent filmmaker or 
even a community-based group. Please 
send films on DVD for broadcast consider- 
ation to: John Offord, Propeller TV, c/o 
Screen Yorkshire, 46 The Calls, Leeds LS2 
7EY john@propellertv.co.uk (0)7724 
243680. 

THE SHORT LIST. Weekly, half-hour 
international short film series on PBS and 
Cox Cable now licensing for 14th season. 
Considers shorts 30 sees, to 20 mins (fic- 
tion, animation, documentary). Send DVD 
screener with application form down- 
loaded from www.theshortlist.ee. 

WIRESTREAM FILMSEARCH seeks films 
for broadcast. WireStream Productions, in 
Co-operation with WireStream networks, is 
seeking independent films and television 
series for broadcast. Genre welcome 
include Drama, Comedy, SciFi, Fantasy, 
Nonfiction/Reality and Educational films 
and series, suitable for general/mature 
audiences. All entries must be available for 
all rights worldwide. Entries previously pre- 
sented are eligible subject to confirmation 
of rights. Submit entries to Waye Hicks, 
Executive Producer, via email to 
wayne@wirestreamproductions.com, or by 
Parcel Post to WireStream Productions, 



get it made 

with the association of independent 



video and filmmakei 



get it made. 





Film still from In the Pit 
by filmmaker Juan Carlos Rulfo (2006) 



NSTITUTE 




The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund 
celebrates ten years of supporting the 
development and production of internatior 
documentary films and videos focused or 
contemporary human rights issues, freedor 
of expression, social justice, and civil 
liberties. The Documentary Fund is a core 
program of Sundance Institute. 

For further information on the Sundance 
Institute Documentary Fund objectives 
application guidelines, please visit 
www.sundance.org or contact: 

Sundance Institute Documentary Fund 

Sundance Institute 

8530 Wilshire Blvd., 3rd Floor 

Beverly Hills, CA 90211 USA 

Email: sdf@sundance.org 
Tel: (310) 360-1981 
Fax: (310) 360-1969 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 57 



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WEBCAST 

FILMFIGHTS.COM democratic filmfestival 
that anyone can enter, 3 times a month. 
We filmfight every ten days of the month 
(the 10th, 20th, and 30th) and submissions 
are due 1 day before the fight— given a title 
or genre, the submissions are voted on 
through the website. The winner is the 
winner and goes into the archives, and 
their video sits front and center until the 
next winner is crowned, along with a little 
blurb about whatever they feel like. Please 
visit the website for a complete list of guide- 
lines: http://filmfights.com/submit.shtml. 

MYREELONLINE.NET is Launching 
Webcast Service, March 2006. Accepting all 
short film submissions under 10 minutes to 
be included in a weekly broadcast over the 
web. The films that are accepted will be 
broadcast over the web in a weekly show. 
We are currently accepting any and all gen- 
res, and the shorter the better. There is no 
charge for entries, and all filmmakers will 
retain all rights to the film. Email 
info@myreelonline.net for details or go to 
www.myreelonline.net. 



58 The Independent I May/June 2006 



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BUY | RENT | SELL 

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE AT LOW PRICES, 
NO RESTRICTIONS: Offering a High 
Quality, Extensive Library of Public 
Domain Footage spanning the 20th 
Century at prices independent producers 
can afford. Footage Farm (888) 270- 
1414; www.footagefarm.com. 

DISTRIBUTION 

AQUARIUS HEALTH CARE MEDIA, the 

leader of documentary films that focus on 
health & powerful life challenging situa- 
tions is seeking additional programs to 
add to our award winning collection. Our 
strong, targeted marketing program & 
film festivals will help increase awareness 
for you. We look forward to previewing 
your film. Please send your film to 
Aquarius Health Care Media, 18 North 
Main Street, PO Box 1159, Sherborn, 
MA 01770 (888) 440-2963. 

NEW DAY FILMS seeks energetic independ- 
ent film and video makers with social issue 
docs for distribution to non-theatrical mar- 
kets. If you want to maximize your audience 
while working within a remarkable commu- 
nity of activist filmmakers, New Day is the 
perfect home for your film. New Day is 
committed to promoting diversity within 
our membership and the media we repre- 
sent. Explore our catalog at 
www.newday.com, then contact Alice Elliott 
at join@newday.com or 2 1 2-924-7 151. 



OUTCAST FILMS an emerging LGBT 
film distributor seeks social issue docs 
which will foster the critical and essential 
discussions around civil rights, health 
care, and sexuality which largely impact 
the LGBT community. Distribution con- 
sultation services also available on a slid- 
ing scale. Inquire at or visit www.outcast 
films.com. 

THE NEW YORK CINEMA MARKET - 

rescheduled, July 7-9, 2006. Deadline: 
April 30. New film market catering to 
indie filmmakers. 20 min seg from 40 
films over 3 days together with 6 seminars. 
Exhibition Formats: 35mm, 16mm, 
BetaSp. Preview VHS & DVD. 
Submission Fee: $35, Contact 646- 
285-6596; Pchau@newyorkcinemamar 
ket.com; www.newyorkcinemamar 

ket.com 

FREELANCE 

35MM & 16MM PROD. PKG. W/ DP. 
COMPLETE PACKAGE W/ DP'S own 

Arri 35BL, 16SR, HMIs, lighting, dolly, 
Tulip crane, camjib, DAT, grip & 5-ton 
truck. . . more. Call for reel: Tom Agnello 
(201) 741-4367; roadtoindy@aol.com. 

BRENDAN C. FLYNT - Director of 
Photography for feature films and shorts. 
Credits: "Remedy" starring Frank 
Vincent and "El Rey'(GoyaAward). Have 
35mm,sl6,HD equipment and contacts 
w/festivals, distributors, and name actors. 



Call anytime(212)208-0968 or befly 
nt@yahoo.com; www.dpflynt.com. 

COMPOSER ELLIOT S0K0L0V creates 
unique original scores for film, video, tv, 
features, docs, more. Award winning 
credits, affordable, creative. Manhattan 
studio. Free CD. Credits, demos at 
www.elliot sokolov.com. 212-721-3218; 
elliotsoko@aol.com. 

D.P WITH ARRI SR SUPER 16/16MM 

and 35BL-2 camera packages. Expert 
lighting and camerawork for independ- 
ent films, music videos, etc. Superb 
results on a short schedule and low budg- 
et. Great prices. Willing to travel. 
Matthew 617-244-6730. 

EXPERIENCED CINEMATOGRAPHER 

with crew and equipment. Short films 
and features. 16mm, 35mm, video. 
Vincent 212-779-1441. 

EXPERIENCED PHOT & FILM 
RESEARCHER available for documentary 
film projects large & small. Visit my web 
site for a list of projects & clients. 
www.roberta-newman.com. 

FUNDRAISING/GRANTWRITING/MAR- 
KETING Research, writing & marketing 
for production, distribution, exhibition 
&educational media projects. Successful 
proposals to NYSCA, NEA, Sundance 
Doc Fund , ITVS, NEH, Rockefeller 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 59 



Support 

the organization that 
supports you. 

Since 1973, the Association of Independent Video 

and Filmmakers has worked tirelessly to support 
independent vision. Our achievements have preserved 
opportunities for producers working outside the mainstream. 
For just $70/yr. add your voice to ours, and let's see what 
we can do together. 

visit us at www.aivf.org 

or call 212/ 807-1400 

TOTALLY INDEPENDENT 




Foundation, Robeson Foundation. 
Reasonable rates. Wanda Bershen, (212) 
598-0224; www.reddiaper.com. 

STORYBOARDS make complicated 
scenes clear. Kathryn Roake has drawn 
over 1 5 films, one the winner of a New 
Line Cinema grant, another, the winner 
of an HBO grant. I work on union and 
non union films. Kathryn 718-788- 
2755. 

OPPORTUNITIES | GIGS 

50 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR VIDEO 
BUSINESS. FREE REPORT. Grow a suc- 
cessful video business in Legal, Wedding, 
Corporate, TV and more. Check out 
http://videouniversity.com/50web.htm 
for humorous but empathetic short 
about art activists. Contact Carol, Pearl 
in an Osyter Productions. 



PREPRODUCTION | 
DEVELOPMENT 



CAREER AND SCRIPT CONSULTANT 

Emmy nominated Ellen Sandler (Co- 
Executive Producer "Everybody Loves 
Raymond") can help anyone avoid costly, 
time consuming pitfalls and dead ends in 
the Hollywood game. She works one on 
one with you on pitching skills, script re- 
writes, career strategies, including net- 
working and relocating to Los Angeles. 
Her approach follows specific guidelines 
andproven techniques, but is always cus- 
tomized to the specific needs, strengths 
and budget of each client. Email: 
elsand@comcast.net for more informa- 
tion and to request a sample consultation 
at no charge. 

GET YOUR SCREENPLAY READY FOR 
PRODUCTION! Former Miramax story 
analyst, School of Visual Arts professor 
and author of Aristotle's Poetics for 
Screenwriters (Hyperion, August 2002), 
will analyze your screenplay and write 
you contructive in-depth studio style 
notes. I will go right to the heart of what 
works in your script and what needs 
improvement as well as offering sugges- 
tions about HOW to fix it. Trust me, I'm 



60 The Independent I May/June 2006 



not looking for "formulas." Every screen- 
play is different. Since I'm an independ- 
ent filmmaker, I specialize in helping 
filmmakers get their scripts ready for 
shooting. Face it. You're going to spend a 
lot of money to make your film. Spend a 
little up front to make sure your script 
works. It's the ONLY way to pull off a 
low budget film effectively! It will cost 
you 1000 times more to fix script prob- 
lems AFTER the production begins. 
Reasonable rates, references. Michael 
Tierno, mtierno@nyc.rr.com. 




GO PICTURES is an indie production 
company based in NYC. At GO Pictures 
we seek to collaborate on challenging 
projects with the undeterred film or 
video maker. Our goal is to find "the lit- 
tle engine that could." With a combined 
20 years in the industry, GO Pictures can 
help you take your idea from concept to 
screen. We offer free project evaluation 
for all comers and we highly encourage 
first timers to take us up on this offer. 
For more information visit us @ 
www.gopicturesnyc.com. Make your 
project a GO - GO Pictures! 

MUSIC LICENSING MADE EASY! Your 
film deserves great music and licensing 
music is what we do - brilliantly! Talent 
Solutions provides brilliant solutions for 
the independent filmmaker including 
music licensing, talent/celebrity negotia- 
tions and contracting, estimate and 
budget management, research and 
resources and contract interpretation. For 
all your music licensing needs, please 
contact lauren@talentsolutions.com 
Talent Solutions, 212-431-3999, 212- 
431-7229 (Fax), 285 West Broadway, 
Suite 300, NY, NY 10013. 




-GET STARTED 



800.226.7625 



w MJBS 



May/June 2006 I The Independent 61 



NEW DAY FILMS is the premiere distribution 
company for social issue media owned and 
managed by filmmakers. We have distributed 
documentary film and video for over 30 years 
to non-theatrical markets. With a strong com- 
mitment to diversity within our membership 
and the content of the media we represent, 
we welcome your interest! 

www.newday.com • join@newday.com 



Or call Alice Elliott: 212.924.7151 



Seeking energetic 
independent makers 
of social issue 
documentaries for 
new membership. 




TALENT/CELEBRITY NEGOTIATIONS 
MADE EASY! Your film deserves great 
talent and negotiating and contracting 
talent/ celebrities is what we do - bril- 
liantly! Talent Solutions provides brilliant 
solutions for the independent filmmaker 
including talent/celebrity negotiations 
and contracting, music licensing, esti- 
mate and budget management, research 
and resources and contract interpreta- 
tion. For all your talent/celebrity negoti- 
ations and contracting needs, please con- 
tact lauren@talentsolutions.com Talent 
Solutions, 212-431-3999, 212-431-7229 
(Fax), 285 West Broadway, Suite 300, 
NY, NY 10013. 

POSTPRODUCTION 

AUDIO POST-PRODUCTION. Audio 
completion on your Doc or Film. Well 
Credited and experienced. Visit website 
for Credit List. Terra Vista Media, Inc. 
Tel 562 437-0393. 

EDITOR & FCP INSTRUCTOR: DV & 

Beta SP EDITOR with own suite; plus 
workshops for Final Cut Pro available: 
learn Final Cut Pro from certified 
instructor and professional editor. Log 
onto www.Highnoonpro.com or call 
917-523-6260. e-mail: Info@High 
NoonPro.com. 

WEB 

WEB SITE DESIGNER: Create multime- 
dia web sites, integrating video, sound, 
and special effects, that promote your 
films and/or your company. Info: Sabine 
Probst, phone: 646-226-7881, email: 
sabine@spromo.net, www.sabineprobst 
design.com. 

STORYBOARDS Experienced artist 
delivers quality pre-production artwork. 
Storyboards are a visual blueprint of your 
script, an invaluable reference tool for the 
director, and save time film and money. 
Accoustomed to communicating with 
directors and working under a deadline. 
Negotiable rates. Gregory Lyons 412- 
889-9709. 



62 The Independent I May/June 2006 



THANK YOU 



The Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) provides a wide range of pro- 
grams and services for independent moving image makers and the media community, 
including The Independent and a series of resource publications, seminars and workshops, 
information services, and arts and media policy advocacy. 

None of this work would be possible without the generous support of the AIVF mem- 
bership and the following organizations: 



NYSCA 

O 

PBS 



Kodak 

Motion PKDjrt»>» 



City of New York Dept. of Cultural Affairs 

Discovery Wines 

Experimental Television Center Ltd. 

Forest Creatures Entertainment, Inc. 

Home Box Office 

The Jewish Communal Fund 

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 

The Nathan Cummings Foundation 

The National Endowment for the Arts 

New York State Council on the Arts 

The Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation 

PBS 

Yuengling Beer 

The Advertising Club 

Kodak 



BUSINESS/INDUSTRY MEMBERS: AL: Cypress Moon Productions; 
CA: SJPL Films, Ltd.; CO: CU Film Studies, Pay Reel; CT: Anvil Production; 
FL: Charter Pictures Entertainment; IL: Shattering Paradigms Entertainment, 
LLC; MD: NewsGroup, Inc.; TLF Limited Management; Ml: Logic Media 
LLC; MS: Magnolia Independent Film Festival; NY: Entertainment Pro 
Insurance; Cypress Films; Deutsch/Open City Films; Docurama; Forest 
Creatures Entertainment; getcast.com; Larry Engel Productions Inc.; 
Lightworks Producing Group; Mad Mad Judy; Metropolis Film Lab; Missing 
Pixel; New School University; Off Ramp Films, Inc.; On the Prowl 
Productions; OVO; Production Central; Range Post; Robin Frank 
Management; Rockbottom Entertainment, LLC; Talent Solutions; The 
Outpost; Triune Pictures; United Spheres Production; VA: Karma 
Communications Film & Video; WA: Two 

FRIENDS OF AIVF: Angela Alston, Sabina Maja Angel, Tom Basham, Aldo 
Bello, David Bemis, Doug Block, Liz Canner, Hugo Cassirer, Williams Cole, 
Anne del Castillo, Arthur Dong, Martin Edelstein, Esq., Aaron Edison, Paul 
Espinosa, Karen Freedman, Lucy Garrity, Norman Gendelman, Debra Granik, 
Catherine Gund, Peter Gunthel, David Haas, Kyle Henry, Lou Hernandez, Lisa 
Jackson, John Kavanaugh, Stan Konowitz, Leonard Kurz, Lyda Kuth, Steven 
Lawrence, Bart Lawson, Regge Life, Juan Mandelbaum, Diane Markrow, Tracy 
Mazza, Leonard McClure, Daphne McDuffie-Tucker, Jim McKay, Michele 
Meek, Robert Millis, Robert Millis, Richard Numeroff, Elizabeth Peters, Laura 
Poitras, Robert Richter, Hiroto Saito, Larry Sapadin, James Schamus, John 
Schmidt, Nat Segaloff, Robert Seigel, Gail Silva, Innes Smolansky, Barbara 
Sostaric, Alexander Spencer, Miriam Stern, George Stoney, Rhonda Leigh 
Tanzman, Rahdi Taylor, KarlTrappe, Jane Wagner, Bart Weiss 



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May/June 2006 I The Independent 63 




By Erica Berenstein 



Whether your production is low-budget, low-low-budget, no-budget, 

or aiming to clear the $10 million mark, sometimes you have to think outside the 

box to get the bucks. What's the most creative/alternative route you've ever taken to 

raise money for a project? 



"Hmmm... aside from begging, borrowing, bartering, bake 
sales, drug studies, drug deals, dirty dancing for rich and horny 
older women, subway performances, selling my comic book 
collection (I had soooo many friggin' X-men it would make you 
choke), catering dinner parties, going in debt $38,000 on 5 dif- 
ferent credit cards, whoring myself out to direct the crappiest 
ideas people had in return for ridiculously small amounts of 
cash, editing actors' reels, shooting actors' reels, cashing in stock 
options and taking it to Vegas to bet it all on black... I can't real- 
ly think of anything I've done that was that creative/alternative 
that any other indie filmmaker hasn't done to raise money for 
their films. However, I am currently toying with the idea of 
blackmail. I'll let you know how it goes." 

— Scott Perry, director, The Outdoorsmen 

"As a maker of super-ultra-mega-unbelievably-low-budget fea- 
ture films, the only person I have ever had to rely on for fund- 
ing is myself. Both of my features were made for a few thousand 
dollars out of my own pocket. I find this is the best way to guar- 
antee my vision makes it to the screen without interference." 

— Joe Swanberg, director, LOL 

"In the course of shooting my documentary, Home Page, which 
chronicled the web's first blogger, Justin Hall, back in 1996, we 
showed him doing a number of web searches on his laptop. 



We managed to convince Excite, an up and coming search 
engine at the time, to give us money and web banner promo- 
tion on Excites website in return for reshooting two cutaway 
close-ups using Excites screen. It was right at the height of the 
dot-com boom, so it wasn't that difficult to come to an agree- 
ment. But they had just re-designed their website, so it was a 
real task convincing them that we needed to use the old design. 
We kept their logo at the edge of the screen so it wasn't too obvi- 
ous. In the end, they were happy, we were 10,000 much-need- 
ed dollars wealthier, and we avoided giving a free plug to 
Microsoft." 

— Doug Block, director, 51 Birch Street, founder and co-host, 
The D-Word (www.dword.com) 

"I needed some quick cash to finish my last short film, 
Curiosity. I bought a case of candy and sold it on the subway, 
telling people it was going towards sending me to film school." 

— Scott Peehl, director, Curiosity 

"We hosted an art auction with a live auctioneer and accompa- 
nying human beat boxer to raise funds for the documentary 
Divided We Stand: A story of two patriots." 

— Jesse Epstein, Ohms Media Collective 



64 The Independent I May/June 2006 



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4 EDITOR'S LETTER 

5 CONTRIBUTORS 

6 ON DVD 

Reviews of AIVF member films 
By Marshall Crook 

10 OUTTAKES 

Movie mentors, piracy-thwarting technology, 
a traveling screening room and more 

By Erica Berenstein & Simone Swink 

1 5 DOC DOCTOR 

How best to bring your film to a close 
By Fernanda Rossi 

17 Q/A 

Checking in with Chris Hegedus, Nick Doob, 
and D.A. Pennebaker 
By Erica Berenstein 

21 PRODUCTION JOURNAL 

When the boundary between film and 
life evaporates 

By Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar 



ATVT Tribute 



27 AIVF'S HISTORY AND LEGACY 

A look back at more than 30 years of AIVF 
By Elizabeth Angell 

31 REFLECTIONS ON AIVF 

35 WHY WE (STILL) NEED AIVF 

By DeeDee Halleck 

36 LOVE'S LABORS LOST 

What happened at AIVF? 
By James Schamus 

37 GETTING PERSPECTIVE 

AIVF's interim executive director's view 
By Lina Srivastava 

38 NOW AND THEN 

A forerunner on 40 years of Super 8 
By Toni Treadway 

39 AMERICAN HISTORY X 

Do filmmakers hold the key to our nation's attic? 
By Erica Ginsberg 

4 1 WHAT'S FAIR ABOUT FAIR USE? 

A look at the current state of copyright law 
By Steven C. Beer and Melissa A Clark 

43 ORPHAN WORKS 

Is advocacy gaining ground? 
By Brian Newman 

45 TRAFFIC CONTROL 

The ugly effects of the corporatization of the net 
By Jonathan Rintels 

47 TOWARD A POST-THEATRE AGE 

The future of distribution 

By Danielle DiGiacomo 

50 LETTER FROM THE BOARD 



Listings 

51 FESTIVALS 
55 CLASSIFIEDS 
58 NOTICES 

62 WORK WANTED 

63 THANKS 

64 THE LIST 



Cover: Photograph by Peter G. 

Svarzbein 

Above: Steven Bognar and Julia 

Reichert at a screening of their 

documentary, A Lion in the 

House. (Photograph courtesy of 

Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert) 



July 2006 | The Independent 3 




Dear Readers, 

One day in early April I walked inro rhe 
office ro find four large burlap bags of 
mail. Hundreds of AIVF members, 
responding to our email request, had sent 
in their films for review — everything from 
a "romantic skamedy" to "a fantastic ren- 
dition of WeWe's crusade to preserve 
African culture." I was amazed, thrilled 
and then immediately sad — not so much 
because of WeWe's struggles, (actually that 
one turned out to be a comedy) — but 
because the Miracle on 34th Street-sized 
delivery was proof that our membership 
was not only very talented, but also still 
very dedicated to AIVF. 

It was a time when AIVF was facing 
major financial and ideological hurdles, 
and as this issue goes to print, we are still 
uncertain of the organization's future. 
What we do know is that the organization 
needs to reorganize and relaunch in order 
to go forward, and that plans are under- 
way to continue publishing The 
Independent — whether or not AIVF 
survives. [See AIVF Board Letter on page 
50.] Regardless of that turnout, however, 
we decided this was a perfect time to 
reflect on a tremendous 30-year institu- 
tion, which, as the following pages show, 
changed a lot of lives. 

For the AIVF Tribute (pages 25-50), we 
asked those who have been intimately 
involved with the organization to reflect 
on its rise, influence, and politics since its 
inception in the early '70s. We also asked 
policy experts in the industry to explain 



some of the crucial issues facing inde- 
pendent filmmakers today — including 
copyright law, internet regulation, and 
new distribution practices. Our hope is 
that somewhere in the juxtaposition of 
these two, there is some explanation of 
how we got to where we are. 

For a clearer perspective on the The 
Independents evolution, we scattered our 
archives all over the floor. The mess 
turned into a visual timeline, which we 
tried to share by scattering excerpts from 
some of those issues throughout this one. 

In addition to the special section, 
there's a good dose of the regular 
Independent here. The Doc Doctor is in 
the house, as are Steven Bognar and his 
wife Julia Reichert (who founded New 
Day Films not long after AIVF launched). 
The makers of A Lion in the House wrote 
a very moving production journal about 
the moment their documentary about 
kids with cancer became personal. For the 
Q&A, Erica Berenstein spoke to the leg- 
endary D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus, 
and Nick Doob about their journey from 
The War Room to Al Franken: God Spoke. 

And although it took us weeks, we 
opened, and stacked and sorted and 
watched all those DVDs, and finally, after 
much grueling deliberation, we are 
pleased to recommend some of our 
favorites. 

Enjoy, thanks for reading 

The Independent, and please stay tuned, 
Shana Liebman 
Editor-in-Chief 



■ ■ FILM AND VIDEO MONTHLY | 

independent 

Editor-in-Chief: Shana Liebman 

leditor@aivf.org] 

Senior Editor: Katherine Dykstra 

[katherine@aivf.org] 

Associate Editor: Erica Berenstein 

[notices@aivf.org] 

Designer: R. Benjamin Brown 

[benbrowngraphic@msn.com] 

Graphics Director: Timothy Schmidt 

[graphics@aivf.org] 

Editor-at-Large: Rebecca Carroll 

[indie.carroll@gmail.com] 

Intern: Marshall Crook 

[marshall.crook@gmail.com] 

Contributing Editors: 

Sherman Alexie, David Aim, Pat Aufderheide, 

Bo Mehrad, Cara Mertes, Joshua Neuman, Sean Shodahl 

Contributing Writers: 

Elizabeth Angell, Sarah Coleman, Lisa Selin Davis, 

Nicole Davis, Matt Dunne, Rick Harrison 

Advertising Representative: Veronica Shea 

(212) 807-1400 x232; [veronica@aivf.org] 

Classified Advertising 

(212) 807-1400 x241; [classifieds@aivf.org] 



National Distribution: 

Ingram Periodicals (800) 627-6247 



POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: 

The Independent 
304 Hudson St., 6 fl., New York, NY 10013 

The Independent (ISSN 1077-8918) is published monthly (except 
combined issues January/February and July/August) by the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film (FJVF), a 501(c)(3) ded- 
icated to the advancement of media arts and artists. Subscription to 
the magazine is included in annua] membership dues (S70/yr indi- 
vidual; $40/yr student; $200/yr nonprofit/school; S200-700/yr busi- 
ness/industry) paid to the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers (AFVF), the national professional association of individ- 
uals involved in moving image media. Library subscriptions are 
$75/yr. Contact: ATVF, 304 Hudson St., 6 fl., New York, NY 10013, 
(212) 807-1400; fax: (212) 463-8519; info@>aivf.org. 

Periodical Postage paid at New York, New York 
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Publication of The Independent is made possible in 
^^ part with public funds from the New York State 
::.'..■;,•.: Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the 
'■'""■■" National Endowment for the Arts, a federal 

agency. 

Publication of any ad in He Independent does not constitute 
an endorsement. AIVF/FIVF are not responsible for any 
claims made in an ad. All contents are copyright of the 
Foundation for Independent Video and Film, Inc. 
Reprints require written permission and acknowledge- 
ment of the article's previous appearance in The 
Independent The Independent is indexed in the Alternative 
Press Index and is a member of the Independent Press 
Association. 

AIVF/FIVF staff: Pnscilla Grim, membership director; 
David Diez, Claro de los Reyes, Benu Lahiry, interns; 
AIVF/FIVF legal counsel: Robert I. Freedman, Esq., 
Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard. 



AIVF Board of Directors: Paula Manley, (Co-Chair ) Elizabeth 
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(President), Richard Saiz, Board Member, Jon Marcus, Board 
Member 

© Foundation for Independent Video & Film, Inc. 2006 
Visit The Independent online at: www.aivf.org 



4 The Independent | July 2006 



CONTRIBUTORS 




MARSHALL CROOK is The 
Independent staff intern and a writer. He 
attended the College of William and Mary 
and New York University and now lives in 
Brooklyn. 



BRIAN NEWMAN is executive director ELIZABETH ANGELL is a freelance 

of National Video Resources, a nonprofit writer living in Brooklyn. She has an MFA in 

that supports the creation and distribution of writing from Columbia University and is a 

independent media arts, www.nvr.org frequent contributor to The Independent. 




TIM SCHMIDT has been The 
Independents graphics director for the last two 
years. He is also a freelance designer for Off- 
Broadway productions, television pilots, and 
various ad hoc designs. In his free time, he helps 
write sketch-comedy for the comedy group 
"Fearsome" and assists with their sound and 
lighting, www.timothyschmidtdesign.com 



SIMONE SWINK is a New York-based 
television producer and writer. She has pro- 
duced for the National Geographic Channel, 
Martha Stewart, and NBC Enterprises. 
Democracy: The Making of an American Opera, 
her first independent documentary, is in the 
final phases of postproduction. 



PETER G. SVARZBEIN's photographs 
have appeared in Heeb Magazine, The New 
York Times, Fortune Magazine, and The 
Independent (on the covers of this issue and 
the May issue.) He was born and raised in El 
Paso, Texas and still misses the sunsets there. 



July 2006 | The Independent 5 



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Stephen Tobolowskys Birthday Party; 

Dir: Robert Brinkmann; Monster Releasing; 
www.stbpmovie.com 

"Los Angeles," proclaims veteran character 
actor, Stephen Tobolowsky, "is like Hell but 
with good restaurants." I will take his word 
for it. With countless films to his credit 
(Memento, Groundhog Day) Tobolowsky has 
developed a natural rapport with the camera 
and it shows as he spends an hour and a half 
relating stories about life, the biz, and the 
collision of the two. Consistently funny and 
at times poignant, one doesn't need to recog- 
nize Tobolowsky to connect with his experi- 
ences. Plus he sneaks in an anecdote about 
the time he stared down a shark, which 
should sell the film all by itself. 

Freedom State 

Dir: Cullen Hoback; Aaron Douglas 
Enterprises, www.freedomstatethemovie. com 

A band of misfits ride in a yellow school 
bus to the edge of the earth to wait out the 
apocalypse. (One proclaims herself President 
of the World and wears a cape to prove it.) 
They may be on a grand adventure or they 
may be escaped mental patients — who can 
say? Despite clunky acting, Freedom State 
looks great and feels light on its feet with 
bright colors, a barrage of whimsical sight 
gags, and symmetrical compositions that 
echo Wes Anderson. Watch out for the sub- 
limely humorous husband and wife dinner 
conversation that takes place under the 
watchful eve of a mounted deer head. 



Year of the Bull 

Dir: Todd Lubin; Urban Works 
Entertainment, www.urbanworksent.com; 
www. yearofthebull. com 

A coach taunts, curses, smacks, and shoves 
his players, turning athletic powerhouses into 
rag dolls: Welcome to high school football. 
Set in urban Miami, Todd Lubin's documen- 
tary takes place in a low-income, African 
American community where a football schol- 
arship is the only way out. Similar to Hoop 
Dreams, the audience follows a potential 
superstar, Taurean Charles, as he experiences 
success, failure, injury, and the expectations 
of his family and community who live vicar- 
iously through his athleticism. 

In Good Conscience 

Dir: Barbara Rick; DP: Albert Maysles; 
Out of the Blue Films, Inc.; www.ingoodcon- 
science.com 

Sister Jeannine Gramick: What a nun! No 
cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudel 
for her. Barbara Rick's engrossing documen- 
tary follows Sister Jeannine on her quest to 
bring Catholic ministry to homosexuals; the 
arc of the film is her attempt to broach the 
topic with Cardinal Ratzinger (then head of 
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the 
Faith and now Pope Benedict XVI). Sweet 
and articulate with the tenacity of a PTA 
mom, Gramick proves herself to be more 
than the battle-against-intolerance type. 



6 The Independent | July 2006 




Smitten 

Dir: Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto; 
New Day Films, www. newday. com 

A film about art for art lovers, Smitten is 
the story of Rene di Rosa, the elderly owner 
of the world's largest collection of Northern 
Californian art. On his farm/museum in 
Napa Valley, an orange car hangs from a 
tree, a house of glass bottles sits in a vine- 
yard, and the walls of his spacious home are 
so saturated with art that paintings stretch 
across the ceiling as well. The film captures 
di Rosa's passion and we realize he is not a 
man of infinite wealth but instead of exqui- 
site taste, one who finds ways to pay for 
what he wants so that he can share it with 
the world. 

Acts of Worship 

Dir: Rosemary Rodriguez; Manifesto Films; 
www. actsofworshipthemovie. com 

Lacking the nightmarish momentum of 
Requiem for a Dream or the dangerous play- 
fulness of Trainspotting, Acts of Worship is 
about the routine drudgery and squalor that 
comes with being a Lower East Side addict. 
The story's heart lays in the friendship 
between Alix (Ana Reeder), an addict, and 
Digna (Michael Hyatt), a successful photog- 
rapher. The dirr-under-the-nails quality can- 
not be over-emphasized, though characters 
at times possess a sincerity and self-aware- 
ness that jolts the viewer out of the grim sce- 
nario and into a lesson learned. 



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Willie the Lion 

Dir; Marc Fields; Shanachie Entertainment 
Corp., www.shanachie.com 

Marc Fields's doc is a love letter to the man 
Duke Ellington deemed "beyond category." 
Talking heads and archival footage tell the story 
of Willie "the Lion" Smith, one of the great 
Harlem jazz pianists. While some may shy from 
a doc so predictably created, when the story- 
tellers are Artie Shaw and Amiri Baraka — men 
whose opinions count and stories resonate — 
one can't help but be sucked into the whirlpool 
of adoration for the man who taught the Duke, 
Thelonious Monk, and Shaw. Plus the sound- 
track and concert footage are enough to satisfy 
any jazz fan. 

Inside Iraq: The Untold Stories 

Dir: Mike Shiley; 
www. insideiraqthemovie. com 

The introduction is haunting: a black and 
white night vision video of two distant Iraqi 
men running about over which the voices of 
American soldiers debate whether or not to 
blow them up — we leave with the impression 
that they will. Shiley's film is not a polemic; 
instead he takes us along on his self-financed 
journey to Iraq where he captures mostly the 
mundane: tea in an outdoor cafe, chatting 
with the guy in the next car, candid photos of 
smiling strangers — which is exactly what is 
missing from CNN and Fox. It gives the daily 
report of "seventeen dead in a suicide bomb 
attack" its due horror. 




Country Boys 

Dir: David Sutherland; David Sutherland 
Productions, Inc., www.davidsutherland.com 

The Appalachian region of Eastern 
Kentucky, an impoverished land of dead or 
dying coal-mining towns, is the backdrop for 
this eye-opening documentary. The story fol- 
lows Cody and Chris — the former an orphan 
with no legal guardian, the latter a provider 
for his family — who are intelligent, sensible, 
and well aware that they are stereotyped as 
"barbaric hillbillies." That they are victims of 
circumstance is salt in the wound, but both 
possess a visible if not spoken will to prove 
someone, somewhere, wrong. 

Vertical Frontier 

Dir: Kristi Denton Cohen; Peloton 
Productions, www.pelotonproductions.com 

This is a solid documentary about 
Yosemite National Park's evolution into a 
rock-climber's Mecca. Adrenaline junkies will 
marvel at men and women who dangle by 
their fingertips; nature buffs will love the 
scenery; history hounds the story; and people 
like me will love the kitsch factor. I rocked 
out to the acousti-metal soundtrack (acoustic 
guitars layered over heartfelt '80-style thrash- 
ing) and was wowed by the reverberating 
voice-of-God narration by Tom Brokaw. 
Those who miss Brokaw's nightly broadcasts 
may wish to add themselves to the list above. 



July 2006 | The Independent 7 






Licensed To Kill 

Dir: Arthur Dong; Deep Focus Productions, 
Inc. , www. deepfocusproductions. com 

Arthur Dong's film is a brutal look at vio- 
lence against homosexuals — brutal because 
the viewer is not allowed to look away from 
the results of these crimes, be they injury or 
death. Driven by Dong's interviews with 
inmates guilty of murdering gays, their rea- 
soning is often perverse, and some show lit- 
tle to no remorse. Candid responses to "Why 
did you do it?" accompanied by news footage 
and crime-scene photographs take the audi- 
ence to a frightening place. 

Rolling for Jesus 

Dir: Erica Sashin; Wide-Eyed Productions, 
Erica, wide. eyed@gmail. com 

The sincerity, kindness, humor, and all 
around New Yawk-ness of Phillip Frabosilo, a 
cabbie who converted his car into a moving 
ministry, makes this film a winner. Frabosilo 
chats, listens to stories, provides spiritual 
advice, offers prayers, and delivers food and 
clothes to the poor and needy. Seriously, 
what's not to like? This wanna-be-hip-young- 
New- York-liberal-cynic was won over. As a 
documentary it is passable, but Phil is a star. 
Plus, according to him, "God don't care if I 
cheat on my taxes." Amen to that, brother. 

Milk and Opium 

Dir: Joel Palombo; Starke Filme; 
www. milkandopium. com 



Two young Indian boys wander through a 
Delhi mall, the first they have ever seen. 
"Everything is in English," the narrator says. 
"This is like another country." Milk and 
Opium is about young Swaroop's wish to be 
a traveling musician. Ultimately he is the 
means to a larger, visual story: the compari- 
son of rural Indian culture to the fast 
Westernization and modernization of urban 
India. The viewer marvels at the metro and 
the mall because our hero does, but we also 
marvel at the quieter, rural, more natural 
moments. After all, we have seen malls and 
skyscrapers, but few of us have really seen 
India. 

The Last Atomic Bomb 

Dir: Robert Richter; www.richtervideos.com 
Richter's documentary is a soft meditation 
on the aftermath of Hiroshima andNagasaki, 
specifically how both play into fears for the 
future. Images of urban wasteland and the 
recollections of survivors provide more emo- 
tional bang than any CGI monstrosity or 
Terminator 2-style production design. One 
woman takes the filmmakers to a Nagasaki 
back lot where her childhood home had 
stood before being obliterated by the bomb. 
Stories of survival are juxtaposed with 
footage of current activists lecturing students 
on present day nuclear armaments, a fright- 
ening counterpoint that reveals our govern- 
ments really have not learned a thing. 






8 The Independent | July 2006 



Not to Be Missed... 



More great films by 
AIVF members 



Zero Degrees of Separation 

Dir: Elle Flanders; Graphic Pictures Inc.; 
www.zerodegreesofseparation.com 

The Morrison Project 

Dir: Amy Morrison Williams; 
www.themorrisonproject.us 

Bass Man 

Din Michael Bayer; Flathead Films, 
www.flatheadfilms.com; 
www.bassmanmovie.com 

Bad Boy Made Good 

Dir Ron Frank and Paul D. Lehrman, 
www.badboymadegood.com 

Back to Life 

Dir: Samantha Reynolds; 
www.backtolifethemovie.com 

Big Enough 

Dir: Jan Krawitz; 
www.stanford.edu/-krawitz 

Shared History 

Dir: Felicia Furman; Felicia Furman 
Productions; www.sharedhistory.org 

Family Fundamentals; Coming Out 
Under Fire 

Dir: Arthur Dong; Deep Focus 
Productions, Inc., 
www.deepfocusproductions.com 

Monster Road 

Dir: Brett Ingram; Bright Eye Pictures, 
www.brighteyepictures.com 

Pulling 

Dir: Jay Frisch; El Gato Rojo 
Productions, egrproductions@nyc.rr.com 

A Family Undertaking 

Dir: Elizabeth Westrate; Fanlight 
Productions, www.fanlight.com 



To The Hills 2 

Dir: Fritz Donnelly; 
FilmCartel, www.tothehills.com 

The Shape of Water 

Dir: Kum-Kum Bhavnani; 
www.theshapeofwatermovie.com 

Almost Home 

Dir: Brian Lichtenstein; 
www.almosthomedoc.org 

Vito After 

Dir: Maria Pusateri; Dreams Late 
Productions, www.dreamslate.net/press 

Surfing for Life 

Dir: David L. Brown; David L. Brown 
Productions, www.surfingforlife.com 

Goodbye Baby: Adoptions from 
Guatemala 

Dir: Patricia Goudvis; New Day Films, 
www.newday.com 

Muskrat Lovely 

Dir: Amy Nicholson; Myrtle & Olive, 
www.muskratlovely.com 

Alone Across Australia 

Dir: Jon Muir and Ian Darling; Direct 
Cinema Limited, www.directcinema.com 

The Aphrodite Project 

Dir: Jennifer A. Reinish and Justin 
Thomas Rowe; Ten Toes Over Productions, 
www.theaphroditeproject.org 

Sacco and Vanzetti 

Dir: Peter Miller; Willow Pond Films, 
www.willowpondiflms.com 

Thirst 

Dir: Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman; 
Bullfrog Films, www.bullfrogfilms.com 




The Fire Next Time 



D 



ir: ratrice 



O'Neill; www.d 



ocurama.com 



Aging Out 

Dir: Roger Weisberg and Vanessa Roth; 
Public Policy Productions, 
www.docurama.com 

Doing Time: Life Inside the Big 
House 

Dir: Alan and Susan Raymond; Video 
Verite, www.docurama.com 

Omar & Pete 

Dir: Tod Lending; Nomadic Pictures, 
Ltd., www.docurama.com 

Prom Night in Kansas City 

Dir: Hali Lee and Peter von Ziegesar; 
Zeitgeist Films, www.zeitgeistvideo.com 

The Wraith of Cobble Hill 

Dir: Adam Parrish King; 
Monique-adam@earthlink.net 

A Perfect Fit 

Dir: Ron Brown; 
www.aperfectfitmovie.com 

West 47th Street 

Dir: Bill Lichtenstein and June Peoples; 
Lichtenstein Creative Media, Inc., 
www.lcmedia.com 

The Pact 

Dir: Andrea Kalin; Spark Media, 
www.sparkmedia.org 



July 2006 | The Independent 9 



outtakes 

Mentors for 
Media Makers 



By Erica Berenstein 



mi » m me were starv- 
\/\/ m g artists. 
V W Starving to 
feed ourselves on celluloid and 
barbequed chicken," recalls 
filmmaker Ron Mann of the 
time during the late '70s when 
he hitchhiked from Paris to 
Cannes, slept on the beach, 
and carried his sleeping bag to 
meetings with producers. 
Somewhere along that route, 
he met director Frederick 
Marx (Hoop Dreams, Boys to 
Men?). Both were inexperi- 
enced and looking for guid- 
ance. "We were cinophiles 
wanting to meet filmmakers," 
says Mann. 

But even after the success 
of Hoop Dreams, Marx 
laments that he was unable to 
find professional filmmakers 
willing to offer support. Not 
having had a mentor "contin- 
ues to be an Achilles heal for 
me," he says. Mentoring, as 
Marx sees it, is a crucial part 
of the process of turning pas- 
sive recipients of media into 
active creators. And with 
increasingly accessible digital 
tools and so many new media 



10 The Independent | July 2006 




Mentees: Al-Tran Bule, Frederik 
outlets and political groups 
soliciting work from kids, he 
thinks it's an ideal time to 
encourage young people to 
tell their stories. 

He recently contacted 
Mann — whose most recent 
film Tales of the Rat Fink 
explores Ed "Big Daddy" 
Roth and custom car cul- 
ture — and Doug Block — the 
founder and co-host of the 
D-Word community, an 
online discussion forum for 



Marx, Spencer Shefts, and Calixto Baez 

documentary professionals — concrete aspects of nonfic- 

to invite them to participate tion filmmaking, 
in a new program he is devel- "When you have young 

oping, the Doc Mentoring people taking up these tools, 

Studio. Still in its nascent they're typically not jaded," 

stages, the program will link says Mann. "They just need 

students, community activists, a bit of guidance so they 

and young nonfiction media don't spend their energy in 

makers with professional the wrong place." 
filmmakers who can help the The current plan is for 

students develop technical Studio students, of which a 

and production skills, as well minimum fifty percent will 

as guide them in the craft of be people of color or from 

storytelling and other less low-income backgrounds, to 



The crew from Upressplay.com, a networking 
website, yuk it up 



participate in the program for 
eight weeks. During that 
time, they'll produce work 
that will be screened in their 
communities, broadcast 

through potential program- 
ming partnerships with 
Current TV, BBC2, and PBS, 
or distributed via the internet 
and "every medium imagina- 
ble," says Marx. In addition 
to the Studio's actual post- 
production facilities, he 
hopes production companies 
such as Lucasfilm will give 
students access to their stu- 
dios. He also hopes to create 
franchises in other cities. 

The aim is not to churn out 
future filmmakers, but to fos- 
ter "active citizens engaged 
with media," says Marx. 
Mann agrees: "You can go to 
a factory school and do it 
that way, but by having 
someone that mentors you, 
it's more in the tradition, the 
Socratic approach." 

Mann's own mentor, direc- 
tor Emile de Antonio, 
"taught me everything I 
know. More importantly, he 
opened up his address book 
and showed me the ropes." 




July 2006 | The Independent 11 




Ben Blaine at a Mobile Cinema screening 



On the flip side, as a college 
professor, Mann admits, "I 
get more out of it than the 
students. I get so much feed- 
back." Marx adds that many 
people of his generation tend 
to disconnect from young 
people and "often have fears 
around digital technology. 
They need to be mentored by 
the mentees." 

Block agrees that learning 
can be much more productive 
when the exchange of infor- 
mation comes from both 
sides. "Mentoring doesn't just 
have to be taking someone 
under your wing for a long 
period of time. It can be a 
more general thing — a 
chance to share information,' 
he says. It can also help to 



form bonds that will hopeful- 
ly live on beyond an 8-week 
session. 

For more information, see 
www.fmarxfilm. com 

PRESS PLAY 

It was while Matthew Jones 
was seeking cast and crew 
for his film projects at 
Columbia College that he 
realized the need for a "a dis- 
tribution outlet for our work 
along with a network to 
recruit from." 

So he built Upressplay.com. 
The site includes uCrew — a 
group of writers, directors, 
cinematographers, sound 
designers, and actors, many 



of whom were in Jones's class- 
es and understood the gruel- 
ing and often unglamorous 
life of a film student. "It's low 
or no pay usually," Jones says, 
"so you have to believe, and 
you have to love it." 

Five years later, the site has 
turned into a successful net- 
working center, with sections 
for watching and download- 
ing clips, exhibiting reel and 
resume, and finding crew. It's 
also a content producer and a 
showcase for members' work. 
V.2, released in April 2006, is 
a DVD compilation of shorts 
and music videos including 
"Back to Reality;" the first 
installment of an episodic 
dramatic comedy called 
"Roscoe Village," and a music 



video for Chicago metal 
band Mazarene. The DVD 
includes directors' commen- 
taries, behind-the-scenes 
footage, photo galleries, and 
cast and crew bios. V.2 is sold 
over the website and show- 
cased at release parties. 

The company's first DVD, 
V. 1 , was a collection of shorts 
including two horror come- 
dies, a comedic mini-rock 
opera, a music video for rock 
band Court Jester, and a live 
set from Dye the Sky. Over 
300 units of VI have sold 
and the team is aiming to 
double their sales with V.2. 
This summer they will release 
V.3, featuring shorts and 
music videos, as well as 
episode 2 of "Roscoe 



12 The Independent | July 2006 



Village," which Jones co- 
wrote, directed, and edited. 
— Simone Swink. 

See www. upressplay. com for 
more information. 

MOVIES ON THE 
MOVE 

The original idea was 
to drive filmmaker 
Ben Blaine into the 
countryside and abandon 
him, but since Ben cant drive 
and doesn't own a mobile 
phone, his friends "thought 
it'd be great to do an event 
where I'm driven into the 
countryside and abandoned 
and people have to find me 
just using the Shooting 
People mailing list," explains 
Blaine. "Thankfully this soon 
turned into a slightly friend- 
lier idea — the Mobile 
Cinema." 

So with a van, a projector, 
a screen, a sound system, and 
a DVD player, Blaine and his 
team spent two weeks 
exhibiting shorts throughout 
the United Kingdom. "We 
use the internet to find our 
audience, but then we bring 
all the rest to you in the real 
world." 

Blaine had been a member 
of Shooting People — an 
online network for exchang- 
ing ideas and finding crews 
that was launched with 60 
filmmakers in 1998 (today 
the site has an active mem- 
bership of over 29,000)— 
when the idea for Mobile 
Cinema was born. Chatting 
with Shooting People's 
founders Brits Cath Le 
Couteur and Jess Search, he 
mentioned that, "thanks to 
Shooters [Shooting People 
for those in the know], there 
are hundreds and hundreds 
of films being made every 
year, but the downside is no 



one gets to see them and 
wouldn't it be great it 
Shooters did something to 
change that. And they did 
one of their sideways glances 
and said 'go on then." 

Now, traveling from the 
Shetland Isles to Bristol, the 
team is never sure how many 
viewers to expect. "Audience 
size always varies and one of 
the joys is never really know- 



"Cinema is a real thing that is 
always best experienced in a 
room full of people and 
everything we've done with the 
Mobile Cinema has just con- 
firmed for me that feeling." 
— S.S. 

Follow their progress at 
www. themobilecinema. com or 
http://shootingpeople.org/bens 
blog.php. 



you [your name here] for 
supporting independent 

film" to remind viewers that 
"you have a contract with the 
filmmakers, and if you want 
extra copies, please buy 
them," explains Bob 

Alexander, president of 
Indiepix . 

"There's a social contract 
between the audience and the 
filmmaker," says Alexander, 



"The audience likes to know- 
that most of their money is 
going to the filmmaker. They 
understand these are small or 
limited projects, and they want 
to know the guy who did it is 
going to benefit." 

— Bob Alexander 



ing who is going to turn up," 
says Blaine. In Winchester, 
they had two people but 
when they played "the 
Harrisons' back garden up in 
Leeds, not only did Shooters 
come from the whole of the 
North but most of the street 
came along to see what the 
noise was. It was brilliant." 

Lest Americans dismay, the 
Mobile Cinema tour is com- 
ing to the United States as 
soon as Blaine and his broth- 
er Chris finish their own 
short film about a talking 
panda. They plan to begin 
the US tour in New York and 
roll right across to Los 
Angeles. As Blaine says, 



PIRACY BE GONE! 

Indiepix and PixelTools 
Corporation recently anno- 
unced that the 2,000 films 
available on Indiepix. net's 
Download-To-Own system will 
be watermarked using a new 
technology called MPEC 
Escort. The invisible, digital 
watermark allows online pur- 
chasers to make copies, but 
prevents pirates from doing so, 
(the watermark makes it sim- 
ple to trace who originally pur- 
chased and downloaded the 
film.) 

Indiepix also plans to place 
a slate at the beginning of 
each film that says "Thank 



who hopes that improve- 
ments to the technology for 
downloading films will help 
both independent filmmak- 
ers as well as his consumers. 
"The audience likes to know 
that most of their money is 
going to the filmmaker. They 
understand these are small or 
limited projects, and they 
want to know the guy who 
did it is going to benefit." He 
adds, "There's this whole area 
of fair use and the independ- 
ent filmmaker is very much 
interested in having his work 
distributed and visible, and 
he doesn't want a lot of 
restrictions on how that 
works." 



July 2006 | The Independent 13 



THE STORIES BEHIND THE MOVIES 

MOVING 




PICTURES 



One of Alexanders favorite 
new downloads is a "really 
small film called Infinite 
Vision. The filmmaker is from 
India, and the film is about a 
prominent doctor, sort of a 
cultural hero, who developed a 
new approach to cataract eye 
surgery, and it's saved millions 
of people from going blind 
and dying prematurely. That 
title has done well over 1,000 
units in the last year. I look at 
it and say no one would have 
known about it if we hadn't 
gotten behind it." 

— S.S. 



BREAKING OUT 

After 17 years publish- 
ing Moving Pictures 
magazine, the 

Maitland Primrose Group is 
partnering with other outlets 
to launch an alternative dis- 
tribution channel. Maitland 
Primrose Media will "offer a 
complete chain of digital dis- 
tribution for independents" 
that is "focused on the audi- 
ence-viewer side" says 
Moving Pictures publisher C. 
Margaret Tritch. 



When Moving Pictures 
began publishing in 1989, it 
was a trade publication play- 
ing to the same audience as 
Variety, Hollywood Reporter, 
and Screen International. 
Their motto, "going places 
other film magazines fear to 
tread," has remained their 
goal even as their prospective 
audience has changed. In 
2004, the magazine was 
relaunched as a prosumer 
publication seeking to fill the 
niche between gossip and 
trade publications about the 
film industry. 



Their new media arm will 
film interviews with film- 
makers and discussion panels 
at some of the larger festivals. 
These will be available on the 
Moving Pictures magazine 
website, as well as on screens 
at national theatre chains. 
Withoutabox, the online net- 
work famous for helping 
streamline submissions to 
film festivals, also plans to 
publish these interviews, as 
well as partner with MPM on 
a short film contest. 

—S.S. 



14 The Independent | July 2006 





Ask the Documentary Doctor 





By Fernanda Rossi 



Dear Doc Doctor: 

My documentary has three potential endings. 
How do I choose one? 

False starts, fake endings, such are the tricks that 
storytelling — and life — plays on us. But it's impor- 
tant to remember that endings are choices, even when 
documenting real events. 

If your story is conflict-driven, the ending will come 
shortly after the resolution of the conflict. Exactly 
where in the plot this happens depends on the intensi- 
ty of the conflict and the nature of the resolution. If 
your story is not conflict-driven, the challenge is that 
sometimes there seems to be no ending. Leaving you 
to create an artificial sense of completion — a much 
more subjective task. The best way to do this is to 
make sure you cover all angles of a character or topic 
so that your audience feels a certain level of satisfaction 
or saturation. Do more than that, though, and you 
may be accused of being self-indulgent. 

The characters' stories have to wrap up in descend- 
ing order — minor characters first, main character last. 
If this doesn't happen, the story will feel disjointed, as 
if it has multiple endings. You might say to yourself 
"But it happened in that order." Know that this is the 
time to make an ethical choice: Does the order in 
which you choose to close character's stories jeopardize 
the truthfulness of the overall documentary? 

Multiple endings are also symptomatic of a scat- 




tered structure or the filmmaker's unwillingness to let 
go of certain scenes. If this is the case, just remember 
that you can put leftover materials in the DVD extras 
or post them as media clips on your website. Nothing 
is ever lost. 

Epilogues and/or postscripts can also create a false 
ending if they are badly handled. I recommend that 
you use the slate credits to separate them from the 
main story, followed by the end roll credits. If that's 



July 2006 | The Independent 15 



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not an option, make sure a nice long fade- 
out — or similar device — tells the audience 
that the story is over and that everything 
that follows is bonus material. 

Finding an ending, settling on one 
among many, or simply accepting that 
there isn't one can create anxiety. Paul 
Gardener assuaged his own distress by 
believing that "a painting is never fin- 
ished: it just stops in interesting places." 
And he was right. After all, whenever 
something ends, something else begins, 
giving birth to a plethora of sequels, 
remakes, and director's cuts. For better or 
worse, there are really only transitions 
hiding behind end credits. The idea of 
something ending is merely the illusory 
result of our linear thinking. * 









> 






Fernanda Rossi is a filmmaker and story 
consultant, author 0/Trailer Mechanics: A 
Guide to Making Your Documentary 
Fundraising Trailer. She can be reached at 
info @documentarydoctor. com. 




16 The Independent | July 2006 




JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1993 



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INJCrENJcNI 



• INSIDE THE • 




Q&A with Chris Hegedus, Nick Doob, and D.A. Pennebaker 



By Erica Berenstein 

In 1993, The Independent ran a story 
about The War Room, directed by 
Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker. 
The film followed Bill Clinton's 1992 
election campaign from inside campaign 
headquarters. This year, Hegedus, along 
with Nick Doob, the cinematographer on 
The War Room, released Al Franken: God 
Spoke, an intimate portrait of Al 
Franken's growing political persona, 
punctuated by the "Saturday Night Live" 
brand of humor he is most famous for. 
The film played to rave reviews at both 
the 2006 Full Frame Festival and Tribeca 
Film Festival, among others. 



Now, as The Independent looks back — 
as well as ahead — seems like the perfect 
time to get these three veteran filmmakers 
back on record. Here they discuss the 
evolution of political campaigning — 
from 1993 to now — as well as how the 
industry of independent documentary 
making, that they had such a huge hand 
in shaping, has changed. 

Erica Berenstein: In the 1993 inter- 
view, The Independents then editor, 
Patricia Thomson, asked you what 
George Stephanopoulos and James 
Carville's motives were in letting you 



into the Clinton war room with a cam- 
era. You said they 'had an interest in 
the historical aspects of it. ..they 
understand what we mean by histo- 
ry... To be able to see what they are 
doing from some kind of distance, 
some kind of outside position.' 

Chris Hegedus: I think that's probably 
the same for Al Franken and why he let us 
into his life. 

D.A. Pennebaker: What's really inter- 
esting, and none of us have really dared to 
give a lot of thought to this, is how much 



July 2006 | The Independent 17 





The documentary avant-garde: Nick Doob, Chris Hegedus, and D.A. Pennebaker 



The wise guy of Al Franken: God Spoke 

did our pursuing him... how much did 
that count for what he finally did? I think 
that our being in the room focused James 
in a way that he wouldn't have been 
focused if we hadn't been making a film. 
But you don't know. You like to think 
that you're not even there, but the fact is 
you are there. And it isn't you that's there. 
It's this process. They never saw the 
process as being a big film. They just saw 
us as making a home movie. Al, I think, 
maybe saw it a little differently. 

EB: How did you decide to do a film 
about Al Franken? 

CH: He was going around doing these 
book tours, and he was getting hundreds 
of people, and something was really hap- 
pening for him in a way that was never 
happening before with his other books. 
And people were incredibly hungry to 



hear his message. Al just seemed like he 
was at a point of change in his life, and 
those are the points that you decide to 
make a film about somebody. 

EB: The place of documentary films 
in popular culture has really changed 
in the 13 years since The War Room 
came out. They're part of popular cul- 
ture much more than they used to be. 
Has what you expect from your films 
changed because of how the public 
reception of documentaries has 
changed? 

DAP: You know it has changed, 
because tomorrow in Newark is the big 
election. And the guy in Street Fight is 
definitely going to win. And I think the 
film had an effect on that. It certainly got 
[Sharpe] James out of the race. 

CH: [Street Fight] has a quote on the 
box that says, 'the best film since The War 
Room.' 

Nick Doob: The whole political 
atmosphere has changed since then. I 
mean, there was Whitewater and then 
there was the impeachment. The thing 
about all this stuff, "Crossfire" and Rush 
Limbaugh and all that, is that there is this 
sort of recklessness with facts. Al is not 



that way. To a fault, he's very careful of 
the accuracy of what he talks about. He 
loses arguments because of that. He was a 
good sort of hero for our film. It seemed 
like the country was going to turn a cor- 
ner. But it didn't. But Al turned a corner. 

DAP: And it may yet turn a corner. 

NB: And it may yet turn a corner, 
that's right. It feels like we're in round 
two of the same thing. 

DAP: The steam pressure is really 
rising. 

EB: A friend recently said to me after 
watching Atom Egoyan's new film 
Citadel at Hot Docs, 'You can't have a 
defined category called documentary. 
There is no such thing.' 

DAP: As an author, as an originator, is 
it your responsibility to compartmental- 
ize? Are you supposed to be the one to say 
this falls into this thing? Whatever your 
friend said you can't do, I sort of agree; 
you can't do either. 

EB: So would you say that your films 
are documentaries? 

DAP: No. We don't say that. 



18 The Independent | July 2006 




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Somebody else does. What can you do 
about it? 

CH: I think that the reason nobody 
wants to be boxed in to documentary is 
because it's not only history. I think you 
can explore in more interesting ways the 
convergence of real-life filming, narrative 
filming, animation, all sorts of experi- 
mental film within a film. I definitely 
don't want to be confined to doing some- 
thing that is strictly documentary. But I 
think we still are interested in something 
that is... in the power of stories about 
real life. 

EB: So, this is kind of flip in a way, 
but if you don't necessarily categorize 
your films as documentary films... 

DAP: Well we do... 



people, and I think that is what is exciting 
about seeing the type of films we do and 
others. Whether you call it documentary 
or cinema verite. 

DAP: (chuckling) Reality films. In 
other words, what you're saying is: Is the 
difference between artifice and reality 
determinable? Not by everybody. 

ND: Nobody in that room knows 
what is going to happen next in a docu- 
mentary. That's part of it. There's some- 
thing very exciting about that. You can 
get, like with Al, a great performance. 

CH: We used to try to avoid it because 
documentary was the d-word; it would 
damn your film. It would never get 
any type of release if you called it a 
documentary. 



CH: We're kind of flip in our DAP: The theaters wouldn't even 

answer... play it. 



DAP: We don't really have a lot of 



:hoi 



ND: Monterey Pop wasn't a documen- 
tary. 

DAP: It was called that later. Not 
when we put it out. We never advertised 
it as such. 

CH: Well, they put it in the documen- 
tary category at the. . . 

DAP: Well, I took it out! They were 
going to enter it into the Academy 
Awards, and I was very excited. I said this 
is great, against all these big films. And 
they said, 'No, no. We're going to put it 
in a special category, documentary' And 
I said no. I took it out. The last thing in 
the world I want is to have a label on it 
'documentary' It would disappear. 

ND: But documentaries have 
changed. In many ways you've prevailed, 
Penny. Documentaries used to be things 
that were narrated all the way over, and 
they had a certain look. It's a much freer 
way of making films. 

CH: There is a power in seeing the real 



CH: They never played documentaries 
in theaters for most of our career but then 
documentaries became very fashionable. I 
think also 20 years ago they attached a lot 
of significance journalistically to the word 
documentary and there were lots of 
debates over it about truth and this and 
that, and you'd get all caught up in 
whether it's true. All I know is that when 
I first saw certain documentary films that 
were different than any films I saw when 
I grew up, which were mostly nature films 
or war films about World War II, I saw 
certain films that Pennebaker and 
[Richard] Leacock and [Albert] Maysles 
had done with Bob Drew, and they were 
so real to me because they kind of 
brought back a certain time and situa- 
tion, and they were very dramatic for me. 
This seemed a way to make a film that 
was as dramatic as a fiction film, but it 
was about real people and because of that 
it was almost more dramatic because you 
felt like you were really seeing history in a 
sense. And I think that these films do 
touch on history; in that way, it's the 
point where they segue to documentary 
somehow. The War Room is a record. As a 
record, it's only one tiny view of those 
moments in the [Clinton] war room. But 
it's what remains, "fc 



20 The Independent | July 2006 



Blurring the Lines 

The boundary between her film — about children 
with cancer— and her life evaporated when 

Julia Reichert herself was 
diagnosed with cancer. 



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The film stars Al and Regina Fields, 
above, and Judy and Jackie Loug, right 




By Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar 



Ohio-based filmmakers Steven Bognar and 
Julia Reichert's 3-hour and 45-minute docu- 
mentary A Lion in the House follows five fam- 
ilies with economically and racially diverse 
backgrounds over six years during their fights 
against childhood cancer. The filmmakers 
(Reichert started New Day Films in 1971 and 
both are longtime members ofAIVF) recount the 
fascinating process of making the film, as well as 
the terrible and ironic twist that occurred as 
soon as they arrived at Sundance. 

JULIA: In early 1997, my partner Steve 
got a phone call from the Cincinnati 
Children's Hospital's head oncologist. They 
were looking for someone to make a docu- 



mentary about what families go through 
when their kid has cancer. They had seen 
Steve's film Personal Belongings, and they 
knew we were locals. What they didn't 
know was that my own 17-year-old daugh- 
ter had just finished her treatment for 
Hodgkin's lymphoma. It was a year of hell, 
and our initial thoughts about going back 
into that world were negative. But after 
about 15 minutes, we realized it was an 
amazing opportunity to help end the isola- 
tion of people fighting cancer. I would 
never have considered taking on this film if 
I had not gone through the experience with 
my own child. 



STEVEN: We started shooting with just 
one digital video camera, a Sony VX-1000, and 
called friends to see if we could borrow other 
equipment. Little by little we fumbled into a 
professional setup — including one radio mic 
and a shotgun mic on a boom pole. The boom 
was crucial because often in hospital meetings 
many people are speaking from different places 
in a room, and there's no time to tiptoe over to 
them. We quickly learned how to pivot the 
shotgun mic quickly so it was aimed in the 
right direction, and the boom could then be 
eased closer to that person. We were always a 
two-person crew, and in the early days of film- 
ing we argued a lot about how to do this work. 
It was actually kind of bumpy. 



July 2006 | The Independent 21 




Al Fields takes in the view from 
the other end of the camera 



We had different ideas about how we 
should act as filmmakers in the room. I 
thought we shouldn't be interacting a lot, 
and Steven thought we should — that we 
should be like normal people except we 
would have cameras and be shooting. 

I know Fred Wiseman would disapprove, 
but I just felt we had to be as real and decent 
and engaging as we could be. Living in hospi- 
tal time is like running underwater, and these 
families didn't need more silence in their lives. 
Also, I was always hyper self-conscious about 
overstaying our welcome, and I felt like Julia 
always wanted to stay way longer than people 
wanted us there. And you know, in Ohio, 
where people are generous and polite, they 
wouldn't tell us to leave. 

Despite these differences, it was always 
the most compelling thing in our lives. We 
didn't want to be anywhere else. Yet it was 
something we couldn't really describe to 
our friends and family; we only shared it 
with the patients' families, the nurses, docs, 
and each other. That's one reason why this 
film really brought us closer. 



Someone once asked me if I had ice water in 
my veins to film some of the stuff we filmed. 
That comment hurt because I believe an essen- 
tial part of being a true documentarian is that 
you film hard stuff and you let yourself feel it, 
keeping your humanity open to the pain of the 
situation you are filming. This isn't easy, and it 
can damage you if you're not careful. 

We filmed the moment when Tim and 
Marietha are told that Tim's cancer had come 
back. As usual the camera was very close to 
Tim (our backs were snug against the wall of 
the small hospital room). Tim started crying. 
He was only two feet away, and I was holding 
a lens on him. A voice in my head said, "Put 
that damn camera down, you asshole, and 
comfort him." But I didn't put the camera 
down, and Julia did not put the boom pole 
down. 

We looked at this amazing young man and 
offered what sympathy we could with our 
eyes, with brief words. But we kept shooting. 
1 felt so ashamed of myself afterwards. We 
told ourselves we weren't obliged to use that 
footage or we could trim it way down. Yeah, 
right. Here was a deeply powerful scene, and 
we were trying to kid ourselves into thinking 
we wouldn't use it. 



A few years later, I saw Christian Frei's 
great documentary War Photographer, about 
photojournalist James Nachtwey who has shot 
photos in some of the most difficult circum- 
stances on earth, where people are suffering 
profoundly. Nachtwey expressed hope that his 
photos would make a difference, and yet, to 
my surprise, he also talked about the shame he 
felt at times. 

Hearing this made a huge difference to me: 
Shame is a necessary check in the process of 
doing ethical work. The shame should be 
there — as a measure of your conscience. 

Shame never entered into my mind. Our 
primary reason to be there was not as care- 
givers, not as friends, though we were those 
somewhat. We were there to witness, to 
document, and then to take on the respon- 
sibility of sharing that with the world. That 
meant keeping shooting unless the families 
asked us to stop. 

To me, if we put the camera down at 
hard times, we would not be doing our job. 
It took a while to figure this out, that we 
were privileged to witness some extraordi- 
nary human interactions. And witnessing 
for us meant honestly documenting all the 



22 The Independent | July 2006 



events and all the perspectives that were 
part of the things we were observing. 

Our kick-ass editing team helped us turn 
the 525 hours of raw footage into a watch- 
able first cut, which was something like 28 
hours long. Then senior editors Kevin Jones 
and Jaime Meyers were joined by veteran 
editors Mary Lampson (Harlan County, 
U.S.A., Rain in a Dry Land) and my former 
partner Jim Klein {Seeing Red, Scout's 
Honor). We also had great consulting edi- 
tors, like Robb Moss, Yvonne Welbon, 
Austin Allen, Michelle Davis, and Nathaniel 
Dorsky, who wisely told us: "You must 
switch your allegiance from your material to 
the film." 

All hell broke loose when we got the 
news from Sundance. We couldn't believe 
our good fortune. Weeks earlier, we had 
joined the annual, national ritual of anx- 
ious waiting that thousands of filmmak- 
ers do every year. It's a surreal kind of 
process — we all send in our films and 
then try not to obsess about it. But one 
day Shari Frilot called us and told us they 
were showing the film in the documen- 
tary competition. 

It was crazy. They had never shown a film 
that long in competition. From the end of 
November through early January, our lives 
were not our own. Julia was tired all the time 
and feeling a ton of pain in her upper back, 
but when you're working almost 20 hours a 
day and you haven't had a day off in months, 
of course you're tired and aching all the time. 
I kick myself now that I didn't see the signs 
that Julia was getting sick — that it wasn't 
just exhaustion. 

In early January, I saw my doctor and 
got a chest X-ray. A few days later, on 
Friday the 13th as it turns out, my doc 
called and said, "There's something on 
the X-ray, we have to do a CAT scan." 

The CAT scan showed a mass in Julia's 
chest. Our doc said it might be benign, it 
might be malignant; we have to do a biopsy. 
This is TWO DAYS before we leave for 
Sundance. 

That day was also the tenth anniver- 
sary of my daughter Lela's cancer diagno- 



sis. I got the biopsy, and we packed for 
Sundance. 

When we got off the plane in Salt Lake 
City, I turned my phone back on and there 
was a message to call the doctor for the 
results. And there at the gate, standing next 
to the rows of bucket seats, with everyone 
pulling their roller bags past us, I heard 
that I had cancer — a large mass of lym- 
phoma. 

First reaction was denial. ALL five fami- 



the wrong weapon, as it were, and then be 
one down in the fight. 

Working in documentary trains you as a 
researcher, interviewer, note-taker, as a 
judge of divergent viewpoints and as a 
decision-maker. These skills came in 
handy. Also, the families of Lion were great 
support and mentors. The years we spent 
with them made me less afraid and had 
taught us all so much about being proac- 




Frank and Jen Moone allowed Reichert and Bognar into their lives and their struggle 



lies were on their way to Sundance. None 
had ever been to a film festival; some had 
never been on an airplane. They had only 
seen the unfinished film in their own 
homes. We decided to wait until after the 
film had screened — to a standing ova- 
tion — to tell these families our news. 

We got home from Sundance on Sunday, 
January 22. We were admitted to the James 
Cancer Hospital the next day and did not 
leave for the next three weeks. We soon found 
out Julia had an exceptionally rare form of 
cancer for which there was no standard proto- 
col. The survival rate was 18 percent. 

What happened next was just about the 
most scary and intense thing I've ever been 
through. With the clock ticking and the 
tumor growing in Julia's chest, we had to 
choose a course of treatment, knowing that 
whatever treatment we chose would ultimate- 
ly be a leap of faith, a gamble. We were told 
repeatedly that the first treatment you use 
matters most — that you don't want to pick 



tive, assertive, and clear. Even though I 
helped my own daughter fight cancer, it's 
different when it's you. 

About a month later, after round two of 
chemo, Julia went in for a series of scans, which 
would determine if and how well the treatment 
was working. The scans showed her tumors 
had shrunk dramatically, that she was exceed- 
ing expectations. She endured the rest of her 
chemo rounds and finished two weeks before 
the national PBS broadcast of the movie. ~k 

Lion won the Audience Award at Hot Docs, 
a Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Full Frame 
Documentary Film Festival and shared the prize 
for Best Documentary at the 2006 Nashville 
Film Festival. Ln June, it was broadcast as a 
two-part national, primetime special on PBS's 
'Independent Lens" series. More information at 
www.lioninthehouse.com. A companion book 
will also be released with the film. More info 
about the book at www.orangefrazer.com. 



July 2006 | The Independent 23 



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What happened at ATVF over the last 30 years? Coming up 
with a coherent and entertaining way to answer that ques- 
tion was not an easy task. Instead of recounting the factual 
history — which would put most readers to sleep — we decided to let the voices 
(of past and present) speak for themselves. What follows is a conversation of 
sorts, about the independent filmmaking industry from the beginnings of 
Super 8 to now, including rarely collected insights — from extreme gratitude 
to thoughtful criticism — about ATVT's role along the way. 



"After all, it is 1979. Sexism in the media has been around 
as a topic for at least a decade. If we haven't something new 
to contribute in terms of abolishing the still rampant sexism 
in the media, why are we devoting time and energy to plan 
or attend such a meeting?" 

— Ardele Lister, in reference to an 
AIVF /Women Make Movies panel, 1979 



"The consumer video market is expanding just as the 
prognosticators promised. This January was a boom 
month for video stores, as a crush of customers rushed to 
the cassette shelves, eager to try the VCRs they got for 



Christmas. 



"Merely recognizing the fact that color 
film fades is useless. We must act now or 
the films we make in the 1980s will be 
subjected to the same indiscriminate 
destruction as all those made in the past 
40 years. Working with film stock that is 
guaranteed to deteriorate in a matter of 
months is insulting and insane. We have 
no choice but to take action to correct this 
situation which is absolutely intolerable." 

—Martin Scorsese, letter to the editor, 
1980 



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Voices 




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"Back in 1969, just when portable video 
equipment was becoming available in 
stores, I met some people called the 
Videofreex. It was terrific. We set up a loft 
in SoHo in the late sixties and early seven- 
ties as a video studio and did everything we 
could think of on tape. We never stopped 
to think about why we were doing it or 
whether there was any money in it. That 
was back in '69. Of course, some people 
have made millions thinking about 
whether there was money in it in the years 
since then." 

—Skip Blumberg, 1981 



"Although in this age of Atari, cranking by motor a 
perforated strip of film - the gelatinous emulsion extrud- 
ed from cattle bones, the cellulose base from tree pulp - 
through a device mechanically resembling a sewing 
machine and dunking it repeatedly in tanks of chemical 
soup before drying and buffing might seem by compari- 
son primitive, the end result justifies the means with a 
standard image fidelity unmatched by other systems. 
Simply put: Color negative represents a mature, vital, 
enduring technology, not to be written off." 

—David Leitner, 1982 



om 



Issues 



Past 



-Debra Goldman, 1985 



"Despite SAG's emphasis on its economic 
motives, the new contract indicates significant 
changes for a union that has been considered 
one of the least flexible with independents." 

— Lucinda Furlong, 1986 



"One other note of extreme caution before 
you invest in S-VHS: Very soon (maybe in 
five years) video will be totally digital, and 
then everything, every format, will change. 
But that s life with video." 
Bart Weiss, 1 988 






"In the last 



"Much news footage has been irretrievably 
lost. For the first 20 years of television news, 
none of the networks had film libraries per se, 
even for internal use. When Emile de Antonio 
and Daniel Talbot asked CBS in 1961 for 
footage from the 1954 Army-McCarthy hear- 
ings, 'They thought we were a little strange,' 
says Talbot. But, he recalls, once the network 
realized the producers were 'not just some mid- 
dle-aged hippies' and 'heard the jingle of 
money," they sat down to talk.' 

— Patricia Thomson, 1989 



two to three years, the sheer quantity of work 



by [Latina] women and the increased opportunities to share 
contracts and experiences across national boundaries has led 
to a movement that is changing the shape and the direction 
of new Latin American cinema." 
—Liz Kotz, 1989 

"[Michael] Moore-bashing and [Spike] Lee-bashing seemed 
to rise and fall with their box-office grosses, much like the 
fluctuations in anti-Japanese opinions in relation to the rise 
and fall of the U.S. trade deficit. The more tickets sold, the 
more anxiety about the potential dangers of these films. Why? 
Here were two hometown boys - Lee from Brooklyn and 
Moore from Flint - who knew their subject matter with first- 
hand intimacy. Perhaps too close for comfort." 

— Renee Tajima, 1990 



Continued on page 64 



26 The Independent | July 2006 




J&i&twm a/nii L^m^u^ of 




association of independent 
video and filmmakers 




^^ 



BY ELIZABETH ANGELL 

n 1975, when a small group of energetic filmmakers con- 
vened the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers in their living rooms and makeshift offices, the 
word "independent" didn't yet conjure up a world of 
arthouses, busy film festival circuits, and documentary film- 
makers with household names. The word merely 
marked this group of earnest, ambitious directors 
and producers as separate from a small handful of 
institutions. It was a declaration that they weren't 
part of the Hollywood studio system or the television 
networks, and that they didn't want a permanent place 
in the fledgling world or public television. They hoped 
their title said something too about their values, about 
their desire to make work that achieved something more 
than commercial success. They wanted to make films that 
mattered socially and artistically and to find audiences who 
would embrace their work. 

AJVF was born at a fertile moment lor young filmmakers: at 
the apex or the optimistic frenzy of late '60s and early '70s, and at 
the beginning of an explosion of new venues and technologies for 
making and showing films. The studio system was no longer a mono- 
lithic source of well-regarded American movies; increasingly non- 
Hollywood filmmakers were earning attention as well, thanks to 
the excitement generated by the nouvelle vague and a budding gen- 
eration of auteur directors. At the same time, the growing popularity 
of television on the one hand, and the horrifying coverage of the 
Vietnam War on the other, led more and more people to see the power 
of images and to want to be part of their creation. 

But like many artists, film and video makers worked in isolation and 
had tew communal outlets for their ideas and enthusiasm. "There was 
nothing back then tor experimental filmmakers," says documentary film- 
maker and media activist DeeDee Halleck, who served on the AIVF Board 
during the '70s and '80s. "There was no distribution, no support. The medi- 











July 2006 | The Independent 27 




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From top left (clockwise): Barbara Kopple shooting Harlan County USA; 

Jem Cohen's Buried in Light; Steven Soderbergh;Tom Dicillo; Kopple receiving her Oscar 

um was so expensive. Ours was the first American organization that tried to fight against the American Film Institute (AFI) that the nascent organiza- 

provide services." tion solidified. 

In 1974, John Culkin, then head of New York University's Center for In 1975, for the first time, Congress had proposed to fund media mak- 

Understanding Media, set out to remedy the situation. He had secured ers through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The AFI lobbied 

funds that he intended to funnel to independent filmmakers. He recruited to control those funds exclusively, a move that galvanized Lynch and his 

Ed Lynch, a cinematographer, to be AIVF's founding president. compatriots. The AFI was notoriously conservative and dominated by old- 

AIVF had a steep road ahead. There wasn't yet a public appetite for the guard Hollywood types; AJVF argued that the money should be managed 

work these filmmakers hoped to create. "We had to start from the absolute through the NEAs normal peer panel process. They were ultimately victori- 

ground to build organizations and structures, and find funding," says Ariel ous in 1976. 

Dougherty, who had founded Women Make Movies in 1972. "There was- "It was a shock at the time," says Lawrence Sapadin, executive director of 

n't even an audience for our films. People said to us nobody wants to see the association from 1980 to 1991. "Nobody had heard of us. It was a real 

your weird little movies so don't even bother." David and Goliath moment." 

In its earliest days, AIVF was a frenzy of meetings. Thrilled to have a The late '70s saw more key advocacy victories. AIVF positioned itself 

venue in which to discuss their craft and concerns, members seemed to want against unlikely foes, like public broadcasting, and argued that no one organ- 

to get together almost nightly. They organized screenings and set up com- ization should control all the federal or state dollars earmarked for media mak- 

mittees to discuss cable, self-distribution, and membership. But it was in its ers. "It was a very strange position to be in, because PBS was naturally the dar- 



28 The Independent | July 2006 




From top left (clockwise): Errol Morris; Marlene Dietrich; Spike Lee and Chris McNair; Jonas Mekas and Michael Snow; The Farmer's Wife 



ling of everybody's parents," says documentary filmmaker Ralph Arlyck, an 
early board member. "But to us they just looked like part of the same power 
structure." 

A1VF drew attention from these prominent successes, and its members 
gained confidence. "I remember being amazed that there was some truth to 
the notion of democracy," says Arlyck. "We were not a power center. We just 
had an argument to make. It was very surprising to me that you could actu- 
ally go down to Washington and make yourself heard." 

After just a few short years, AIVF had outgrown its makeshift status. It 
rented an office and capitalized on an explosion in membership. It began to 
offer services to its burgeoning constituency. "My focus was really the mem- 
bership," says Sapadin. "We were a trade association. My sense of my job was 
to make the lives of working filmmakers better. If you weren't interested in 
advocacy but you needed health insurance, we could do that. If you had trou- 
ble keeping up with the changes in public funding, we would have seminars. 
If you were renting equipment, we could get you a discount. There was a fes- 






rival program, and we helped you get your film to an audience." 

A magazine was a crucial element in AIVF s expansion. After years as a 
mimeographed newsletter, The Independent Film & Video Monthly was 
launched as a full-fledged publication in the early '80s. "The magazine had 
practical articles on legal matters, on censorship skirmishes, contract dis- 
putes, emerging filmmakers. It had festival listings that everyone relied on — 
because none other existed then. Theory and practice sat side-by-side, 
uniquely, and comfortably," says Pat Thomson, who was editor-in-chief of 
The Independent throughout the 1990s. "What distinguished The 
Independent — and AIVF — was its comprehensive focus. It didn't privilege 
feature filmmaking, but covered the full panoply: Experimental film, video 
art, personal documentary, investigative documentary, and shorts were also 
part of the mix." 

The magazine quickly became more than a vehicle for exchanging infor- 
mation. It tied a disparate community of hard-working, often underpaid 
filmmakers together and drew people who were making media outside New 



July 2006 | The Independent 29 



York and LA into the fold. "The magazine was a real achievement, and it 
gave many people who were not on the coast or presently producing a sense 
of the vitality and importance of independent filmmaking," says Pat 
Aufderheide, a professor of communications at American University and 
the executive director of the Center for Social Media. "It gave filmmakers a 
real sense that they were not just working in another business, but an enter- 
prise that was vital to the public health of the democracy." 

In the mid 1980s, during an era of rapid growth and a burgeoning new 
slate of services, AIVT took on its most important advocacy initiative. Along 
with a wide group of collaborators and contact, Sapadin waged AIVF's slow 
but determined battle to secure federal funding for what was to become the 
Independent Television Sendee (ITVS). The AIVF's constituency of inde- 
pendent producers had long felt that federal 
funds for media makers were directed to a small 
group of insiders. They wanted a separate fund 
that would be specifically earmarked for film- 
makers and governed by representatives of the 
independent community. For three years, 
Sapadin and his coalition tirelessly lobbied 
Congress. "We started to get some traction, 
which was remarkable because we were in the 
thick of the Reagan cutbacks," remembers 
Sapadin. "We were able to position ourselves not 
as liberal producers who needed money, but as 
an alternative to a public TV landscape that was 
increasingly seen as elitist. We represented some- 
thing more diverse and locally driven." 

When ITVS launched in 1988, it was seen as 
a tremendous success. "AIVF had positioned 
independent filmmakers as major voices on 



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tions for independenr media makers, the landscape for independent film- 
makers was undergoing seismic changes. "Independent" was beginning to 
mean something different than small scale and non-commercial. 
Increasingly, filmmakers were working outside the sphere of public funding 
altogether. "For its first 25 years, AIVF operated in a world where inde- 
pendent filmmakers had only nonprofit organizations and smaller media arts 
centers to help them," says Thompson. "There was no HBO, no IFC. The 
country's vast network of film schools didn't yet exist. Low-cost video and the 
DIY approach were yet to be born. There were few or no mini-majors or stu- 
dio arms for lower-budget arthouse films." 

But by the late 1980s, Indiewood was already on its way. Spike Lee's films 
were a harbinger of the tremendous success of non-studio movies, a genre 
that had attracted the interest of producers like 
the Weinstein brothers who went on to build 
the Miramax empire. Independent filmmakers 
became glamorous and synonymous with 
interesting and ambitious — but nonetheless 
mainstream work. 

It was a paradigm shift that many old-guard 
AIVF members resisted. "There is a certain 
kind of filmmaker that is independent because 
nobody has bought them out yet. They're just 
waiting to sell their film to Warner Brothers. 
Then there are people who make independent 
films because they believe in changing the world 
and they believe their stories are important. And 
AIVF was really trying to serve that second 
group of people," says Bart Weiss, the director 
of the Dallas Video Festival and an associate 
professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, 



serves as a vice chair of the ITVS board. "To this 
day, independent producers serve as canaries in the coalmine of American 
democracy, reminding us all of underreported issues like nuclear waste, 
poverty, and the rights of many of America's disenfranchised groups, includ- 
ing ethnic minorities and the disabled." 

The ITVS campaign left the AIVF staff drained but optimistic. Surely, if 
independents could find new monies despite Reagan's retraction of public 
funding, they could survive until the pendulum swung back and Congress 
saw the virtue of fully funding the arts. "All through the period, 1 had this feel- 
ing of stewardship, of guarding these successes for a better time," says Sapadin. 
"We believed that we were going to come out of this tunnel and there was 
going to be a reawakening of interest in the public sector and in the arts. We 
thought the whole spirit of deregulation would pass." 

To the dismay of everyone on AIVF's board, arts funding continued to 
shrink. The Clinton era didn't register as expansionist, but rather ushered in 
Newt Gingrich and a Republican-dominated Congress, which did its best 
to abolish the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and ITVS, and suc- 
ceeded in making deep cuts. "At that time, AIVF had a strong advocacy 
committee," says Thompson. "We were constantly on the phone, calling fel- 
low AIVF members in key congressional districts before appropriations 
votes in Congress and prodding them to call their reps." 

"We knew we had to defend our gains or else we would lose ground," 
says Martha Wallner, who worked as AIVF's advocacy coordinator from 
1990 to 1994. 

While AIVF continued to argue for expanded arts funding and protec- 



since served on and off as its president. 

Some AIVF staffers and members hoped the organization might learn to 
adapt to the changes and might prosper along with groups like the 
Independent Features Project, whose Independent Spirit Awards now rivals 
even the Oscars with the star power and media attention it attracts. "We were 
the oldest nonprofit that served independent media makers, but I was inter- 
ested in giving the contemporary independent community what they want- 
ed, which was more money and attention for their work," says Rebecca 
Carroll, who edited The Independent between 2003 and 2005. "AIVF had a 
deeply rooted, grassroots ethic which was wonderful. I hoped it might adopt 
a more with-it vibe." 

At the same time, the roles that AIVF had traditionally played for inde- 
pendent filmmakers were shrinking. Many of its customary functions were 
rendered increasingly obsolete. For example, new digital technology under- 
mined seminars and equipment discounts. 

"We have to put forth a model that's an alternative to the consolidation 
and the commercialization of public space, just as we did with public televi- 
sion and public access to cable," says Wallner. "People cannot take for grant- 
ed that they're going to be able to distribute media online in an affordable 
way unless people make sure that space is protected." 

"There are some things the commercial space does well, like making 
toothpaste and making funny comedies, but there are other things that need 
public protection, like national parks and certain kinds of independent 
media," Sapadin agreed. "That's what AIVF could help us do." ~k 



30 The Independent | July 2006 




hat it 



w 



meant to me 




I first became aware of AIVF when Martha Gever was editor of 
The Independent. I marveled at this national organization that 
put out each month a magazine chock full of weighty, intellec- 
tual and critical articles on film and video. The magazine wasn't 
glossy and was not determined to be a general "industry rag." At that 
time I was living in San Francisco, and I thought I would run for the 
Board and become active. Issues of freedom of expression and the 
right to use material in creative and personal ways became my plat- 
form. Having survived the NEA criticism of the sexuality in Nitrate 
Kisses with their silly demand to take their grant-giving name off of 
the credits, I felt a responsibility to continue the insistence for artistic 
freedom. 




The four weekends a year meeting with the Board became impor- 
tant goal markers of my year. Not only did I develop friendships but I 
found that under the new leadership of Executive Director Ruby 
Lerner, the Board would be rewarded for their hard work with talks 
and discussions from experts in the field. Ruby brought the organiza- 
tion into financial stability and, along with Board Chair Rob Moss, 
guided us through difficult times while inspiring us with her enthusi- 
asm and inspiration. Besides keeping the membership informed and 
ready to fight for our freedoms, I was able to convince the Board that 
students needed reduced membership fees to be able to afford AIVF. I 
knew from bringing magazines to my class how eagerly they were 
snatched up and that a lifetime of supporting film organizations could 



July 2006 | The Independent 31 



begin before university 
graduation. 

— Barbara Hammer 
has been making films 
and videos, installations 
and performances for over 
35 years. Her new film 
on the lesbian Surrealist 
sisters Claude Cahun and 
Marcel Moore premiered 
this spring. 

AIVF grew from the 
spirit of the '60s: like- 
minded people joining 
together with a com- 
mon goal. Independent 
filmmakers were find- 
ing out that they might be doing a documentary on Latin America, a 
personal animated short, or an edgy narrative feature, but still have a 
great deal in common in terms of the kind of support they needed. It 
would be a mistake to paint an entirely rosy picture. There were con- 
flicts and rough edges that needed ironing out. But the impulse to work 
together, to create a progressive, smart and sophisticated professional 
organization was — and is — admirable. I have the highest regard for 
AIVF's goals and accomplishments. 

— Karen Cooper has been the director of Film Forum, New York 's lead- 
ing nonprofit cinema, since 1972. 





some great people who helped me tremendously. And I learned enough 
to not get into too much trouble (legal and otherwise) while produc- 
ing the film. The information I got from those seminars and those con- 
tacts helped me come out whole (with my wallet and sanity intact) at 
the end of the process. 

Even though Born into Brothels has gone onto great success and I ve 
been able to carve out a career as a filmmaker, I still have a lot to learn. 
But AIVF gave me a great head start. For a truly independent film- 
maker with limited knowledge and few contacts in the industry, AIVF 
was a blessing. 

— Ross Kaujfman is the director, producer, cinematographer, and co- 
editor 0/Born into Brothels, winner of the 2005 Academy Award for Best 
Documentary. 



Trying to make a living as an independent filmmaker is difficult at 
best. AIVF makes that job a little easier and considerably more enjoy- 
able. As a producer/director, I find that it's easy to become so absorbed 
in my own productions that I lose sight of the broader community of 
filmmakers. AIVF connects me to my colleagues and makes me realize 
that hundreds of other filmmakers share my experiences, struggles, and 
occasional triumphs. It's also comforting to know that a powerful ally 
is my court. Whether it's lobbying Congress to protect public televi- 
sion, holding workshops on the latest video technology, explaining the 
newest developments in the distribution of independent media, or 
announcing the screenings of its members, AIVF is always there to pro- 
mote the interests of independent filmmakers. Of course, no month 
would be complete without teading The Independent. This indispensa- 
ble magazine regularly gives me a sorely needed dose of enthusiasm for 
the work I do every day. In short, being a member of AIVF helps make 
me crazy enough to want to continue producing documentaries for a 
living. 

— Roger Weisberg has produced and directed 25 documentaries that 
have won over a hundred awards including Emmy, Peabody, and duPont- 
Columbia awards. 

When I first started to work on Born into Brothels, I didn't know 
anything about producing films. Really... nothing. Incorporation? No. 
Insurance? Not one clue. Releases. Producing. Copyright. Music clear- 
ance. Distribution. The list went on. 

But luckily I found out about AIVF and its weekly seminars on all 
aspects of film production. I attended the seminars regularly and met 



It was 1997 and I had this notion that I'd get Texans into theaters 
to see my documentary about killers of gay men. A statewide tour of 
Licensed to Kill — that's what the film needed to get the message out 
to a region that had one of the highest rates of anti-gay murders in the 
nation. You see, I was a victim of stereotyping and had dreaded visions 
of having to wrangle longhorns and cowboys into theaters. Remember, 
this was pre- Brokeback and the "d" word was still verboten. Lucky for 



— ■ ■ •" ■ ■ ',-» — — ■ 


' 


J5»^"-* "^»^ 




¥ « " 





32 The Independent | July 2006 



me AIVF was there with a human contact. with awe and tried to absorb their power through the thoughtful and 

AIVF Board president Bart Weiss, who also headed the Video insightful text that allowed the artists to articulate their process and 

Association of Dallas, got me rolling and helped me realize that, count- created space for the insights of the writers charged with discussing 

er to my preconceived ideas, there was indeed a documentary audience their work. Then I made a movie that people seemed to like and AIVF 

in Texas. I ended up traveling with the film to five cities. Austin, published what is still my favorite article about the piece. 

Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio. AIVF is not only a model for an institution, it's a model for corn- 

Out of my theatrical rollout in over 50 cities, the Texas tour was the munity building of all kinds. It's a way of making the world the way we 

most gratifying; it validated 

my reasons for being a film- 
maker and distributor. Some 

folks question whether AIVF 

matters to members outside 

of New York City. Well, from 

my point of view, AIVF was 

really never about the Big 

Apple, but about getting 

independent work made and 

out there, no matter where. 

Thanks AIVF for staying the 

course and providing real 



"ATVF connects me to my 

colleagues and makes me realize 

that hundreds of other filmmakers 

share my experiences, struggles, 

and occasional triumphs." 

— Ross Kauffman 



want it, rather than succumb- 
ing to the world in ways that's 
comfortable for those who 
like it the way it is. 

AIVF, for opening your 
arms, and never building 
gates, for opening my mind 
and leaving my checkbook 
mostly alone, and for includ- 
ing me because of my work 
and ideas rather than as a 
placeholder for race and gen- 
der, I thank you. 



ra rid 



maps! 



— Arthur Dong is a triple Sundance winner and Oscar nominee, and 
has been selected for film fellowships by both the Guggenheim and 
Rockefeller Foundations. 

AIVF smashed those golden gates. I'm talking about the invisible 
barriers between artists and their communities, artists and their audi- 
ence, artists and other artists, artists and the means of production. 



— Cauleen Smith is an 
assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin where she teaches 
experimental film and a comedy class sponsored by National Lampoon. 

Twenty years ago, I used to drop by the AIVF offices and comb 
through the library or stare at the bulletin boards. I might've been look- 
ing for info on grants or copying a number from a tacked up index card 
about a Super 8 camera for sale. But I was also there to confirm the 



Institutions, as they expand and grow, can so easily fall into the trap of existence of "independent film," and AIVF served as a junction for its 
exclusion rather than inclusion. Suddenly, without anyone noticing many divergent streams: docs, smaller features, experimental work, etc. 
until it's too late, these institutions are surrounded by the gilded gates These broke off into various differing, sometimes contentious, compo- 
of their own self-importance. nents, but they still shared something apart from and opposed to what 

Hollywood was all about. 

Working at the time on crews, often for studio features, I'd come to 
realize that the world of big-time filmmaking had very little to do with 
any belief in cinema as an art form and a mirror of life as regular peo- 
ple lived it. AIVF catered to a different world, and I thought visits to 
their office might somehow lead me to that elusive thing known as 
community. I'm not so sure that ever happened, but that may just be 
because the kind of filmmaking I ended up doing is a largely solitary 
pursuit. 

However, looking back over old issues of The Independent, I'm 
reminded that "community" did and does exist, more as a spider web 
than a close-knit group that could be instantly "joined." There's Chris 
Smith and Sarah Price over there, talking about American Movie, there's 
Steven Bognar demonstrating the microphone setup that he and Julia 
Reichert refined in the field; there's an article sorting out the intricacies 
of time code, or the tax code as it applies to freelancers... 

Many things have changed, but the need for proof and support of 

this sometimes elusive Un-Hollvwood community is still crucial, and 

And then there's AIVF. Here's an institution that celebrates the we still face some of the exact same issues. One example: In an issue of 

accomplishments of their members as their own success. They don't The Independent from 1990, I find an in-depth article on fair use. This 

wait for members to come to them, they find ways to draw folks in. I year I went to a meeting celebrating the important release of "The 

was one of those lucky filmmakers who was embraced, supported, and Statement of Best Practices on Fair Use," and was pleased to see AIVF 

inspired by AIVF. listed as one of the contributing forces. The fight to define and main- 

As a fledgling filmmaker, I read the articles about stalwart makers tain fair use is indicative of just the kind of combined research, advo- 




July 2006 | The Independent 33 



cacy, community-building effort that AIVF has, and should continue 
to be, a part of. 

Jem Cohens feature, CHAIN, had its international premiere at 

the Berlin Film Festival and was broadcast in Europe on ZDF/ARTE. His 
other films include Benjamin Smoke, Instrument, and Lost Book 
Found. 

Back in 1977 I went to a meeting held at the Great Hall in Cooper 
Union, about plans to create the Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers. By then I had been an independent for about ten years, 
after producing for the Edward R. Murrow/ Fred Friendly unit at CBS, 
and for Oregon and Iowa public television. 

In 1981, the year after I was elected to the AIVF Board, Larry 

Sapadin, a lawyer and 
h one-time film student in 
Paris, became executive 
director and I was elected 
AIVF Board president. 

For a few years AIVF 
ran the Independent 
awards, giving out I- 
shaped metal chunks 
resembling a thin slice of 
railroad track. The award 
ceremony was at the 
Museum of Modern Art 
where I presided, with 
^F _>£^ I Spike Lee and Jim 

,' y L I Henson among the pre- 

I senters. 
Independents were beginning to be noticed. Two weekly series pro- 
duced by independents from all over the U.S. were funded by CPB for 
primetime national PBS telecast in 1981 and 1982: "Crisis to Crisis" 
and "Matters of Life and Death." 

On the AIVF Board we began to try to figure out how independents 
could survive. In an AIVF committee that I chaired we dreamed up 
what ultimately became the Independent Television Service (ITVS). 
But as the victory and our role in it faded in memory, AIVF lost mem- 
bers and financial survival became central to AIVF's agenda. We used 
to fantasize that if only we had another crusade, AIVF would come out 
fighting and even stronger. 

— Robert Richter's newest film is The Last Atomic Bomb (see review 
in this issue). 

She was actually selling them out on the street. The first issue of The 
Independent. Her name was Suni Mallow. This was in the early '70s. 
She seemed very intent and not particularly smiley. I forget the exact 
street; somewhere downtown. I also can't remember why we spoke. 
Since I wasn't carrying a camera it's unlikely she spotted me as a like- 
ly prospect. 

I thought of this a few weeks ago when I was handing out leaflets in 
Union Square Park for my doc feature, Following Sean, which was 
about to open at Cinema Village around the corner. We have clearly 
not come such a long way baby. I was there as part of a street team 
made up of my sons and their friends. Our distributor has very little 
money for advertising and I was told that in most cities, if I wanted the 





film to live beyond its opening weekends, we'd have to come up with 
innovative ways of spreading the word. Thinking outside the box 
office we could call it. So we went to Union Square on a sunny 
Saturday and stopped people who didn't have both hands clutching 
produce bags. 

This kind of guerrilla marketing, although it turned out to be a lot 
of fun, is not the most dignified of activities. When your feature opens 
in New York you'd like to be someone who demurely permits himself 
to be interviewed by Charlie Rose or NPR, rather than the guy stand- 
ing out there leafleting in the middle of a farmer's market. 

But AIVF members tend to know that calls from high-profile talk 
shows, not to mention funders, don't come often in the beginning of 
a career. In fact they don't come all that often later on. One can find 
oneself "emerging" for quite some time. You can moan about it but 
it's better to do so in the company of others and to find different ways 
of getting the films made. My sense is that AIVF has always struggled 
with the balance between those poles of mainstream competence and 
fringe energy. To pull it off well you have to draw from the strengths 
of each extreme, and the organization probably hasn't been doing that 
so skillfully lately. 

I have a filmmaking friend who places great store in professionalism. 
To him the AIVF has always been a caricature of amateurism. A bunch 
of raggedy beginners with minimal skills and crossover dreams. I think 
this is a harsh and too-comfortable view. 

I don't want to over-romanticize those early days on the wooden 
folding chairs in Soho (endless cranky meetings) but I do remember that 
when we went to Washington in '78 to make a case for more access to 
PBS funding that it was precisely our "amateur" (the root of which is 
"love" after all) enthusiasm and non-corporate style which got the atten- 
tion of people in Congress. I don't think most of the congresspeople and 
their aides had ever seen anything quite like us. It was exhilarating. M 

— Ralph Arlyck's most recent film, Following Sean, has been featured 
in numerous international festivals. He has produced and directed more 
than a dozen prize-winning, independent films. 



34 The Independent | July 2006 



WHY WE(STILL) NEED AIVF 



BY DEEDEE HALLECK 

W" hen I started to write this article, I began 
with a David Letterman-esque list of 20 
reasons we need AIVE I included practi- 
cal items like "to get a job," "to fill out an 
IRS schedule C for an unincorporated business," and "to 
find out which film festivals are scams." But the real reason 
we need AIVF is to find each other. We need to know where 
we are. We need to locate ourselves in the framework of art 
and culture in this society. Without this "locator," we are 
nowhere. 

My experience with AIVF goes back to the mid '70s 
when a few of us gathered in Ed Lynch's loft on Leonard 
Street in Tribeca. At that time most of us were working in 
16mm film. Video was a gleam in Nam June Paik's eye, and 
an over-the-shoulder accessory for a few Videofreex. 

We banded together to protest the elimination of NEA grants. We 
went to Washington and fought for independent media. As the 
Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, we were more than 
a few disparate individuals — we were a group taking a stand for our 
rights, dignity, and funding. The fact that we were a national association 
helped us win the NEA fight. 

In the beginning, our hub was under the priestly robes of Jesuit radical 
John Culkin and his Center for Understanding Media. Once we got our 
own 501c3, we opened an office on Prince Street, conveniently located 
near the Soho post office and McSorley's Bar. We grew in numbers, and 
we printed stationary, and we started a regular newsletter, The Independent, 
which progressed from mimeographed and stapled sheets to a printed 
magazine with the help of a young Canadian journalist, Ardele Lister. 

We got CETA (Comprehensive Educational and Training Act) money 
and hired a full-time staff. Then we went to Washington again — this 
time for public television. "The Outsiders Want a Piece of the Pie," was 
how the New York Times put it. Our membership grew with that strug- 
gle, from a few hundred to several thousand in almost every state. We 
joined forces with othet media advocacy groups: the Citizens 
Communication Center, the United Church of Christ, the Committee 
to Save KQED, the AFL-CIO, the NAACP, the Consumer Federation, 
National Organization for Women (NOW), the National Latino Media 
Coalition, National Association of Lesbian and Gay Filmmakers, Black 
Producers Association, Puerto Rican Institute for Media Advocacy, 
Women Make Movies, Asian Cinevision, and many others to form the 
National Task Force on Public Broadcasting. (AIVF was the lead organ- 
ization in that coalition.) We testified at committee hearings and edu- 
cated senators about independent media. We inspired media centers and 




universities to host informational meetings in dozens of states. 

We wanted to protect the right of artists to create and of audiences to 
view works of art from a diverse range of perspectives. The ongoing series, 
"POV," grew out of that struggle. Soon after, AIVF, along with other 
media centers and independents around the country, initiated ITVS, the 
Independent Television Service, which is still the major funder and gate- 
way for independents on public television. 

In the last 25 years, independents have made significant gains in pro- 
duction and distribution, and there are now numerous channels for our 
work on cable and community stations. Local PEG (Public, Educational, 
and Government) access studios provide high-quality digital cameras and 
editing software in many communities. Indie media has been a potent mix 
of independent visual media, radio and internet creativity, and informa- 
tion. But many media centers are teetering on the brink of ruin. Venues 
for experimental film are few and far between. Independent distribution 
entities are hurting. The demise of LAVA (Latin American Video 
Archives) signals the fragility of independent media organizations. 

We still need AIVF. We still need to locate ourselves. We need to con- 
tinue to demand funding, screening venues, and airtime — no matter what 
the apparatus, no matter what the format. We need to ensure that ITVS 
continues to be proactive as the Freedom of Information Act is whittled 
away. Bills in the Senate and Congress threaten both the internet and 
community access. Our national heritage of public media is being priva- 
tized at the Smithsonian. Independent journalists are being specifically 
targeted in brutal wars in the Middle East and Africa. Independent media 
makers need to continue to speak out with diverse voices, united for 
media that challenges the corporate mainstream in form and content. We 
still need AIVF to say: "We are here." ~k 



July 2006 | The Independent 35 



LOVE'S 
LABORS 




A lot of what AIVF did was to create an interface between very 
diverse communities of independent media makers and 
audiences that work structurally through 
the realms of public television. Not just 
public TV a la NPR and PBS, but also public access to 
media spaces like Collective for Living Cinema, 
Film/Video Arts, Millennium, and Anthology. It cir- 
culated a lot of people through those spaces who could 
then claim some kind of relationship as a community. 
AIVF acted as a kind of hinge between all the different 
spaces and vectors of activity. 

As those vectors of activity morphed and changed, 
you saw that, structurally, the identity of AIVF came 
under increasing pressure. First off it came under pres- 
sure from the more careerist portion of that commu- 
nity, like me, people who entered the marketplace as 
the so-called independent film scene became a market, 
and the vector where the lines crossed started coming 
closer to the independent film market. 

There was also this transmigration to the internet ol 
a lot of the knowledge base and conversations. AIVF 
never had the capital; it certainly had the will, but it 
never had the working capital to integrate itself into a 
digital environment. One of the reasons for that was 
that AIVF could never sell its goods to the corpora- 
tions that were replacing community groups. So it didn't have a ration- 
ale for corporate support. 

The only alternative was ratcheting up the organization as a pure dig- 
ital play, which I think, in many ways, was antithetical to the kind of 
notion of human contact and community that drove AIVF. The idea that 
people actually mingle was still part of the culture of the organization, 
but given all these circumstances, this really hampered it. 

The second opportunity was always present and part of the culture, 
but it never became AIVF's raison d'etre. This was activism. AIVF never 
made its focus media activism, and it never transformed into a more 
articulate and informed media activist group that really was engaged in 
the politics of things like the Telecommunications Act of 1996. 

After the ITVS fight, the membership saw real substantial results from 
a real political organization that leveraged its visibility and knowledge 
and its vocal relationship with structures of power in DC. The ITVS bat- 
tle showed that we could succeed, and it created standards for success 
that were both exciting as well as disappointing. AIVF never became a 
venue for those kinds of debates. 



Part of the problem has to do with locating a concept of professional- 
ism. On the one hand, AIVF was an organization that facilitated the train- 
ing ajnd socialization of media makers into a professionalization process. It 
helped people who wanted to make activist media that was of a certain — 
and here's where the problem is — level of accomplishment (i.e. had some 
kindjof economic logic that allowed for the makers to support themselves 
while doing it.) So the demands for support: "We deserve to get paid for 
our work," and "We deserve a place on the PBS landscape," were simulta- 
neous, and in some ways neutralized what was happening with the rise of 
cheap digital video and video activism. So now you have two very com- 
.pexirjve ideas about independent media: one that rightfully says that we 
should do this well and apply standards of professionalism, and the other 
one that says, just pick up a fucking digital video camera and join the 
parade; get it online; get a MySpace page or whatever. How do you recon- 



James Schamus 
weighs in on what 
happened at AIVF 



r ' ' ■ ■ i 



As told to Shana Liebman, 



cile those two things especially with institutional logic? 

I still think that the potential demise of AIVF is precisely the argument 
for why it is needed. The new challenge is finding what could possibly 
bring together this incredibly diverse range of communities all doing inde- 
pendent media. What could help them band together to create a com- 
munity that actually intervenes successfully and pinpoints ways that they 
all agree, even instinctively? A lot of what AIVF got done and done well 
was the result of unarticulated, untheorized, and undiscussed needs. It just 
kind of happened. 

The problem is that a lot of the steps that need to get done require 
some kind of policy wonk thinking. What is happening right now in 
terms of internet access and what telephone companies are going to try to 
do to the internet is astonishing. It's astonishing that all of us aren't total- 
ly together on this, that there isn't one place to go where we can speak out. 
Maybe it's going to take another round or two for the digital marketplace 
to organize itself in a way that people start to see themselves as publishers 
of their work and as having an investment in that. But by the time that 
happens, it may be a little late in the day. * 



36 The Independent | July 2006 



GETTING 




AIVF s interim executive 
from the inside 



BY LINA SRIVASTAVA 

When I came to work with AIVF in February, I don't 
believe the Board or staff could have predicted that 
AIVF's situation would spark a debate about the 
possible meltdown of an entire industry. 
AIVF's Board retained me through a referral from the Support 
Center for Nonprofit Management, charging me to maintain the 
organization's operations following a change in leadership and to 
rebuild systems that had fallen into disrepair. Being a newcomer to 
this industry (I am a lawyer and nonprofit management consultant, 
not a filmmaker or media arts professional), I was able to assess 
AIVF's viability as a business in isolation from larger industry ques- 
tions. After working with the Board and staff for a few weeks, we all 
quickly learned how deeply troubled the organization really was. Its 
operational systems, accounting and financial support, and techno- 
logical capacity were all outdated and barely functioning. 

Although aware of the internal and external difficulties facing the 
organization, neither the Board nor the staff wanted to go down 
without a fight. So we've searched for long-term solutions and nec- 
essary resources, and we started on the task of devising necessary 
changes to AIVF's service model. We also sought an influx of cash 
via donations or earned revenue, to help us finance necessary changes 
in infrastructure as well as programs and services. More importantly, 
additional financial resources would enable us to lay the groundwork 
for a long-term plan to revitalize the organization in a way that 
engaged the community and articulated AIVF's mission — namely, to 
service and improve the professional lives of independent media 
artists. Reaching these goals, though not impossible, has proven chal- 
lenging. 

As Brian Newman, Jim McKay, and Anthony Kaufman have dis- 
cussed, AIVF's problems viewed against larger industry problems look 
even more challenging. Nonprofit organizations regardless of their 
service area are facing leadership, staffing, and budgetary problems — 
and a push to act more like their for-profit counterparts. Nonprofits 
must protect the "bottom line" in terms of maximizing the quality of 
beneficiary services while meeting standards of efficiency, fiscal sound- 
ness, and innovation in their fields. Any nonprofit focused on improv- 
ing its performance must possess the foresight to adequately size its 
budget, retain qualified personnel, and enter into worthwhile part- 
nerships in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, all the while keeping 
an eye on income opportunities, industry trends, and technological 
innovations. A tall order. Now throw into the mix the fact that only a 
few donors will fund a nonprofit's efforts to improve its organizational 






irector s view 




capacity, pre- 
ferring to fund 
programs 
alone. 

The non- 
profit media 
arts industry is 
dealing with 
its own chal- 
lenges, which 
complicates 
AIVF's task, 
but has made 
the question 
of the organi- 
zation's survival that much more crucial. The field has changed radi- 
cally in the last 5 to 10 years. Independent media artists are working 
in the midst of a cultural chill brought on by repressive, pro-consoli- 
dation media policies. One of the most recent and disturbing examples 
of this has been the creation of Smithsonian Networks and its alliance 
with CBS/Showtime, an alliance that threatens artists' access to pri- 
mary source materials [see page 39]. On the other side, the for-profit 
media sector has made a successful foray into the field. That's not 
inherently a bad thing: Responsible for-profit players bring a great deal 
to the table for artists, primarily in terms of distribution and access to 
technological innovations — and artists and nonprofits alike could ben- 
efit greatly from exploring collaboration. But for-profit companies are 
not set up to support independent creators of art or media. Truly inde- 
pendent media and film is already hard to find. 

If the nonprofit media arts movement does indeed "die," who will 
protect the makers of the medium? No matter how much foundations 
and activists push to reform media policy, it won't mean anything for 
the American cultural landscape if artists can no longer fund or dis- 
seminate their works. If there exists a compelling reason for AIVF to 
survive and reinvent itself — or for any other organization that works 
in the realm of nonprofit media arts — it is to protect independent 
media artists and their abilitv to do their work. ~fc 



July 2006 | The Independent 37 



No 




J 

A forerunner on 

40 years of 

Super 8 



BYTONITREADWAY 

Long before Super 8's 40-year march from 
home movie to Kodak's hot new kid, long 
before camcorders, and long before desktop 
editing and filmmakers like us needed infor- 
mation, Bob Brodsky and I were pleased to have Super 
8. When we began filmmaking in the 1970s we used it 
more often than 16mm to make community docu- 
mentaries and short films. It was lighter, cheaper, and 
Kodachrome looked great. 

So, in order to help others evaluate new products 
and services, we tested equipment and wrote monthly 
columns detailing what we learned for Filmmakers 
magazine until its close in 1982. Not long after, we got 
a call from AIVF's Kathleen Hulser (the strong-mind- 
ed but gentle-to-us editor of The Independent) and 
Larry Sapadin (AIVF's ace director/strategist). They 
talked us into continuing the column for The Independent. 

By that point, we had started giving workshops on Super 8 at media 
art centers around the country. Our articles chronicled the vitality we 
round in indie media across the U.S. 

After home video arrived in the '80s, manufacturers and the press 
jumped over each other to ballyhoo products. They wanted us to buy 
a new camera every couple of years as video improved: VHS, Video8, 
Hi8, VHS-C, digital camcorders, and finally computer editing. For 
some reason, a small group of us kept on filming in Super 8: Saul 
Levine up in Boston, Albert Nigrin with a dedicated festival at Rutgers. 
Super 8 filmmakers made up the avant garde in music videos — Kelly 
Reichardt shot the first one we saw; Jem Cohen was one of the best. 

Jeff Preiss made exquisite 8mm films — a Bolex poked out of his 
backpack. The Cinema of Transgression gang in lower Manhattan, the 
Taller del Cine La Red group in San Juan, the Flicker movement all 
over contributed to a trend in camera style and risky subject matter 
that influenced filmmakers from Berlin to Hollywood. Risk-taking was 




■) jU ! ft M !P,Q ftl ijaiW*lft » E ' 






▲ T A 



■ 



Brodsky andTreadway wrote a column on Super 8 for The Independent 



emotional, too. These filmmakers often used their own family 
movies to create works in the evolving "personal documentary" 
genre long before first-person storytelling was bankable. 

Although times have changed, we still need to protect and pro- 
mote these smaller films, the artistic works, the home movies — they 
need to be gathered and shown carefully, to be annotated and pre- 
served. The industry has gotten craftier, absorbed more styles, co- 
opted stories, and demanded output in lieu of insight and research. 
More than ever, we need to stay connected in order to get the qui- 
eter marginal voices heard in our noisy world — something AIVF 
once helped us to do. "k 

Toni Treadway and Bob Brodsky wrote a tech column for The 
Independentyor nearly 10 years and are advocates for the creation and 
preservation of 8mm and Super 8 films, www.littlefilm.org 



38 The Independent | July 2006 



AMERICAN 

Do filmmakers hold the 
nation's attic? 



STORY 



BY ERICA GINSBERG 

With more than 25 museums and 
research centers and a collection 
of more than 142 million 
objects, the Smithsonian 
Institution is a necessary treasure trove tor anyone 
working on a project about American history and 
culture, anthropology, art, or science. Countless 
filmmakers have turned to the Institution for back- 
ground research, access to artifacts and documents, 
and to secure interviews with top experts in their 
respective fields. 

In March, the Smithsonian announced it would 
partner with Showtime Networks to develop 
Smithsonian On Demand, a cable service that will 
feature original documentaries drawn from the 
assets of the Smithsonian. While documentary 
filmmakers could have been pleased that there 
would be another potential outlet for their work, 
the overall reaction was not positive. Within a 
month of the announcement, 215 documentary film 
makers, archivists, historians, professors, broadcasters, and profession- 
al associations that represent librarians, historians, and filmmakers 
composed a letter to the Smithsonian that asked for the terms of the 
deal to be made public and for any contract to be annulled until pub- 
lic hearings could be held. The signatories were a virtual who's who of 
documentary film, including Ken Burns, Michael Moore, David 
Grubin, William Greaves, R.J. Cutler, St. Claire Bourne, and recent 
Academy Award nominees Alex Gibney, Kirby Dick, and Gerardine 
Wurzburg. 

What disturbed most of the filmmakers was that the agreement 
mandated, according to reports in the New York Times and the 
Washington Post, right of first refusal to Smithsonian On Demand for 
any commercial documentary project that required "more than inci- 
dental" use of Smithsonian resources. 

The questions flew. What does "incidental" mean? Would any pro- 
posals that wanted more than "incidental use" be sent to Showtime for 
vetting? Did "commercial" include PBS or the internet? But none of 
these questions could be answered definitively as the agreement wasn't 
made public. 

The Smithsonian claims that, because it is a private business con- 
tract that contains proprietary information, it is under no obligation to 




Nina Seavey found this archive for her film, A Paralyzing Fear. The Story of Polio in 
America, in The Smithsonian 



release the terms of the agreement. Watchdogs of the federal govern- 
ment disagree. Although it's not a federal agency, the Smithsonian 
Institution receives 75 percent of its funding from federal monies. 

Carl Malamud, an internet radio pioneer and fellow at the Center 
for American Progress, submitted a Freedom of Information Act 
(FOIA) request for the details of the agreement. He also organized 
the petition letter to the Smithsonian and an April 18 public forum 
where Ken Burns voiced his concerns about the Smithsonian On 
Demand deal. "This is not us against them," said Burns. "The 
Smithsonian is not the enemy. We love the Smithsonian. We depend 
on them. We just feel those involved made a mistake." 

Most filmmakers who have experience working with the 
Smithsonian agree. Laurie Kahn-Leavitt relied greatly on the 
Smithsonian for her 2003 film Tupperware!. Paul Wagner's 1984 
Academy Award-winning film The Stone Carvers was co-produced 
and co-directed with Marjorie Hunt, a folldorist employed by the 
Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Both film- 
makers have had positive experiences with Smithsonian staff but 
worry that, had their films been made today, their use of 
Smithsonian resources would be considered "more than incidental." 
Both films ultimately screened on PBS. 



July 2006 | The Independent 39 



"I appreciate the fact that the Smithsonian is under difficult finan- 
cial circumstances and needs to raise money," said Paul Wagner. "I 
think it's fine if they want to develop projects with a commercial enti- 
ty, but they can't cut off access to materials that were given to the 
Smithsonian and held in trust there for the American people, not 
Showtime." 

"It's not like filmmakers mooch off them," says Kahn-Leavitt. In 
fact, filmmakers pay pretty significant daily filming fees, which cover 
the costs of electricity, security, and staff costs associated with escorting 
the crew. In the case of Kahn-Leavitt, she not only paid the fees, but 
also helped strengthen the Smithsonian's collections by encouraging 
many of the early Tupperware salespeople she interviewed to donate 
their collections to the Smithsonian. She worries that even the percep- 




The Smithsonian Institution's first secretary, Joseph Henry, in 
front of the Smithsonian Castle, the administrative offices 



tion of an exclusive deal with Showtime sullies the Smithsonian's repu- 
tation as the nation's public attic. "It seems that for a public institution 
to be so secretive and not public-minded about the way they are doing 
this is missing the bigger picture of what their mission is." 

While the Smithsonian wouldn't comment on Kahn-Leavitt or 
Wagner's films, they maintain that a number of past series would not 
be affected by the venture, including Ken Burns' 1999 series Jazz. The 
Institution insists that the Smithsonian On Demand agreement would 
not impact access to background research and suggests that non- 
Smithsonian On Demand projects that rely on "more than incidental 
use' can still be approved on a case-by-case basis. Between March and 
May, the Smithsonian received more than 40 requests from documen- 
tary filmmakers and only two were turned down. Smithsonian spokes- 
woman Claire Brown maintains that most future rejections will occur 
for the same reasons they always have. "It could be inappropriate con- 
tent. It could be artifacts or expertise we don't feel we have. It could be 
focused on an audience that quite honestly is not a priority for us 
because someone else might be asking us to get involved with a project 
with a much larger audience," she says. 

"That represents a paradigm shift," says documentary filmmaker 
Nina Gilden Seavey. "People give their papers to these public institu- 
tions so that scholars, students, and filmmakers can go to them as part 




Carl Malamud and Ken Burns discussing the issue 

of the American experience. Never before have the people who have 
managed these collections ever talked about controlling access to 
them." Seavey has produced and directed a number of independent 
historical documentaries as well as four commissioned works for the 
Smithsonian. She is also the director of The Documentary Center at 
George Washington University and often encourages her students to 
look to the Smithsonian as a resource for their films. 

While Seavey never had to submit requests for her past projects, she 
has noticed that there is now a lengthy filming request form that must 
be completed. It asks not only for basic information about what, when, 
and how the filmmaker wants to shoot, but also whether the project is 
being produced for cable, broadcast, or the internet, who is funding the 
project, who will own the copyright, and what organizations or indi- 
viduals will receive the program's gross and net proceeds. Brown 
explains the requirements as necessary for an organization with the lim- 
itations of and as in-demand as the Smithsonian. "One person can only 
give so much time to a project. If there's a choice between doing proj- 
ects which reach four million people and help advance our mission or 
ones which reach 100,000 people, we're going to take the one that's 
four million." 

Malamud sees the issue as more than just a matter of available 
resources. It is about the lines between different kinds of media becom- 
ing increasingly murky. "What happens to the video blogger who lives 
in Washington DC and wants to pop in to the Smithsonian with a cou- 
ple grand and make a little movie to distribute for free or distribute it 
using BitTorrent and Pay Pal?" asks Malamud. "This contract buys into 
the big media view of the world and that world is changing." ~k 

At press time, there were indications that the concerns of stakeholders 
about the Smithsonian On Demand deal were having an impact. The two 
ranking members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees 
the Smithsonian's federal funding openly criticized the access issues and 
secrecy surrounding the Smithsonian On Demand agreement, and the 
Subcommittee proceeded to cut $5.3 million from the Smithsonian's pro- 
posed budget. The Smithsonian Board of Regents, which includes Supreme 
Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Vice President Dick Cheney, six congres- 
sional representatives, and business and arts leaders, met to discuss the deal 
and the concerns it raised, but concluded that the contract was acceptable 
and that it did not limit access to most legitimate filmmakers. The full 
Appropriations Committee proceeded to cut the Smithsonian's requested 
funding by $15 million. 



40 The Independent | July 2006 




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WHAT'S FAIR IN FAIR USE? 



BY STEVEN C. BEER AND MELISSA A. CLARK 

When writer/producer Amy Sewell sold Mad Hot 
Ballroom to Paramount Classics, the company 
refused to release the film until she cleared the rights 
to all the music, including incidental background 
tracks. Sewell ended up spending half of her budget obtaining clear- 
ances — not to mention countless hours tracking down copyright own- 
ers. In addition to cost, Sewell admits that she compromised quality — 
for example, she was forced to end one scene early when someone on 
set turned up the radio. 

Ten years ago, fair use — a portion of U.S. copyright law that allows 
the use of copyrighted material without permission from the rights 
holder in certain situations, such as reporting news, critique, or for 
educational purposes — protected many filmmakers. Recently, however, 



there has been so much more confusion (as well as a new generation of 
critics) about how and where fair use can be applied, that many docu- 
mentary makers, like Jeffrey Tuchman, who has taught at Columbia 
University's Graduate School of Journalism and directed The Man from 
Hope, have gone so far as to cancel projects because rights issues had 
become "so extortionate." 

Fair use has been a part of copyright law for more than 1 50 years — 
although the application of the doctrine is constantly evolving. It began 
as a common sense concept created by the court system and was incor- 
porated into law by the Copyright Act of 1976. To determine fair use, 
four factors are examined: (1) the purpose and character of the use, (2) 
the nature of the copyrighted work, (3) the amount and substantiality of 
the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and (4) 
the effect of the use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work. 



July 2006 | The Independent 41 




The intellectual property comic book published 
by Duke Center for the Study of the Public 
Domain (and below) 



filmmaker can consult the Statement to determine whether the mate- 
rial in question fits into one of the classes and then take into account 
the protection offered. 

At least two films at Sundance 2006, Byron Hurt's Beyond Bents 
and Rhymes and The Trials of Darryl Hunt, directed by Ricki Stern 
and Anne Sundberg, used the statement to clear festival rights, dra- 
matically lowering costs and enabling release. Among the organiza- 
tions that have endorsed the statement are the Arts Engine, Bay Area 
Video Coalition, CINE, Doculink, Electronic Arts Intermix, 
Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media, Full Frame 
Documentary Film Festival, National Video Resources, and Women 
Make Movies. 

But the debate is complicated. When confronted with clearance 
issues, it is strongly advised to speak to a professional. A lawyer may 
recommend getting a clearance and paying a higher fee for a broad 
license at the outset if there is a potential for wider distribution in the 
future; it can be very expensive to renegotiate after a film receives 
publicity. If you approach a clearing house or the copyright owner 
before doing the proper research, they will monitor the material even 
more closely — almost certainly ensuring a higher license fee or a 
copyright infringement suit down the road. Each situation must be 
analyzed on a case-by-case basis, but you can save time, effort, and 
money by not waiting until the end of your process when your budg- 
et and time are limited or gone. * 



Most careful production lawyers would say, as a general rule, non- 
fiction filmmakers must clear each and every source included in a 
film. But some authorities, like Patricia Aufderheide, a professor in 
the School of Communication at American University and director 
of the Center for Social Media, disagree. Aufderheide believes that 
Sewell didn't need clearance for the majority of the tracks in her film. 
Recognized copyright experts, legal scholar Hugh Hansen and Judge 
Alex Kozinsky, agree. In fact, many think that fair use may benefit 
filmmakers more than is generally recognized. According to James 
Boyle, a professor of law at Duke University, the real impediment to 
filmmakers are private actors and practice, not the law, who some- 
times insist on unreasonable demands for clearance. 

But until the terms are clearer, many distributors are afraid to con- 
fidently deploy fair use. Keith Beauchamp, director of The Untold 
Story ofEmmett Louis Till asked his distributor for a fair use applica- 
tion for the video archives he used in the film. His distributor, 
ThinkFilm, refused and instead advanced him monies to pay for 
clearance fees. The film was consequently very expensive to produce, 
which ran counter to Beauchamp's avowed purpose of "trying to 
work for the better good and uplift humanity." 

The key to fair use is establishing a clear definition for how the 
doctrine should be applied. To this end, in November 2005, a group 
of media organizations, filmmakers, and academics published 
"Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use." 
The Statement defines four classes of situations, each with its own 
principles and limitations. They are: employing copyrighted material 
as the object of social, political, or cultural critique; quoting copy- 
righted works of popular culture to illustrate an argument or a point; 
capturing copyrighted media content in the process of filming some- 
thing else; and using copyrighted material in a historical sequence. A 




a, 

,fto 



42 The Independent | July 2006 







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ORPHANS 



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BY BRIAN NEWMAN 

Filmmakers know well the perilous process one needs to 
undertake in order to use clips or outside footage in a film — 
including researching rights to determine public domain, 
determining licensing costs, and meeting qualifications for 
fair use. Often, however, a filmmaker finds that he or she can't track 
down the owner of a particular clip. Perhaps the original filmmaker 
was not known or never registered his or her footage. The clip then 
becomes an orphan work. 

Photos, books, plays, music — nearly any work can become an 
orphan. Filmmakers most often encounter the orphan works issue 
when using film clips, but they might also have trouble tracking down 
the owner of a song for a soundtrack or the creator of a photograph 
they want to show in their film. The filmmaker might search dili- 
gently, but under current law, a rights-holder can surface later and 
claim he or she deserves to be paid for the use of the work. This seems 
fair at first, but if a rights-holder surfaces after a work is distributed 
over television, internet, or in theatres, the rights-holder might want 
a lot more money than if the film only played a festival or two. 
Furthermore, this film probably wouldn't be able to acquire errors and 
omissions insurance (E&O) and thus a distributor. 

Most filmmakers don't want to steal anyone's work or to use it 
without proper payment, especially because the same thing could hap- 
pen to them. Many times, however, it's impossible to find a copyright 
owner — he or she simply no longer exists. Should one then curtail cre- 
ativity just because he or she fears a rights-holder might surface ten 
years from now? 

In March 2005, the U.S. Copyright Office asked for proposals on 




A fire insurance industrial film from 1924 is one of many orphans 
how to deal with this issue and then made recommendations that 
Congress is now considering. The Copyright Office's request was a 
positive development — it was a chance for creative artists to work 
together to develop policies, rather than just reacting to proposed 
changes. In fact, several groups that work with independent filmmak- 
ers quickly formed a coalition to propose procedures for dealing with 
orphan works: The Association of Independent Video and 
Filmmakers, Doculink, Film Arts Foundation, Film Independent, 
Independent Documentary Association, Independent Feature Project, 
National Alliance of Media Arts and Culture, and National Video 
Resources (the group managed by this author). The coalition is 
advised by Jennifer Urban, the director of the USC Law School 
Intellectual Property Clinic and her students, and it receives crucial 
support from attorney Michael Donaldson and Gigi Sohn of Public 
Knowledge. The Coalition proved, as Urban noted, that, "Congress 



July 2006 | The Independent 43 




A still from an amateur film circa 1920 purchased at a yard sale, re-sold on eBay, and is now in Anke Mebold's hands. The Orphan Film 
Symposium worked with Anke and the Library of Congress to make a preservation master in 35mm and a screening copy in 35mm. 



has taken note of filmmakers' concerns as artists." 

The Coalition drew up a set of principals for best practices: 

1 . A "reasonable efforts search" should be required — simply, some- 
one should work diligently to find a copyright holder before using a 
work. 

2. There needs exist a clear cap on liability costs or damages should 
a rights-holder appear after a film has been made and/or distributed. 

3. There should be no injunctive relief. Should an owner surface, he 
or she would not be able to pull a film from distribution. 

4. If there is no cap on damages, then reasonable compensation 
must be defined by law. It should be clear how to determine the "fair 
market value" of a work, so that filmmakers aren't stuck negotiating. 

5. Rules must apply to both noncommercial and commercial works. 
(This line is often blurry and can change overnight if a film is "discov- 
ered.") 

On April 6, 2006, June Cross, an assistant professor of journalism 
at Columbia University and a documentary journalist, testified to the 
Senate on behalf of filmmakers represented by the Coalition. "One 
piece that has escaped is the often-seen footage of the Black Panther 
Part}' going through their paces in Oakland during the sixties," she told 
the Senate. "Associates of mine have spent months trying to find the 
person who shot that footage to no avail. We have no idea where it 
came from. When we use it, we claim it is public domain, cross our fin- 
gers, and hope for the best. We try not to use too much of it, lest the 
grandchild of the person who shot it comes after us." 

Cross's testimony seemed to help crystallize the issue for senators. In 
fact, her thoroughness was noted by the Senate, which has since asked 



her to document this process more fully. The Coalition is currently 
working with Cross on developing a more detailed proposition of prac- 
tices for orphan works. 

It will also circulate information on this project to their members 
and even send some filmmakers to the Hill to educate Congress so that 
it may craft appropriate legislation. Unfortunately, elections are on the 
horizon, and it is unlikely that legislation will reach the floor for a vote 
during this session. 

Perhaps the most beneficial outcome of the orphan works dilemma 
is that the success of the Coalition has encouraged filmmakers to come 
together on other policy issues that could severely impact them, such 
as net neutrality, the Smithsonian/Showtime deal, and WIPO 
Broadcast treaties. "Cenerally speaking," Urban warns, "the big studios 
and tech companies are in the Beltway, and their voices are being 
heard. Filmmakers need to know that Hollywood is not necessarily 
speaking on your behalf. They need to leverage their voice to affect 
these issues." 

The problem is that each organization represented can only take on 
so many advocacy duties. A permanent home is needed for advocacy — 
a central resource for information, an organization (or simply a person) 
that can lead the building of such coalitions in the future. This was 
once the role of AIVF, and filmmakers have never needed an advocate 
like AIVF more since the time of its founding. Let's hope that some- 
one else picks up the baton. *k 

Text of other proposals submitted to congress at 
www.copyright.gov/orphari/. Full details on how to stay involved are at 
www.publicknowledge.org/issueslow. 



44 The Independent | July 2006 



t3 

C 



CO 




ISi the u 
effects of 
corporatizatio 
of the net 



BY JONATHAN RINTELS 

"This internet may be dying." 

— FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps 

Indie filmmakers have long dreamed of avoiding the high 
cost and creative compromise that can come with the 
Faustian bargain of a distribution deal. And these days 
many see the evolving broadband internet (high-speed, 
low-cost, and utterly pervasive) as the answer to those prayers. 
No more clueless, tasteless, penny-pinching suits mucking up 
my film! No more exorbitant distribution costs, gatekeepers, and 
bottlenecks! No more warping my work to sell popcorn! 

Unfortunately, that broadband-internet-distribution nirvana 
may never come to pass due to the Supreme Court's June 2005 
decision in the FCC v. Brand X case, and the regulatory and leg- 
islative activity it spawned. Andrew Jay Schwartzman of the 
Media Access Project, a public interest law firm specializing in 
media issues, says the case, "will, quite literally, determine the 
future of the internet as we know it." 

The outcome of this battle is especially crucial for independ- 
ent media artists. Thanks to recent inventions like iTunes, 
BitTorrent, and improvements in streaming media, independent 
films (as well as music and TV) are already rapidly becoming 



"internet." As broadband speeds accelerate, so will this trend. 

Daniel Myrick, co-director and co-writer of 1999s micro- 
budget hit The Blair Witch Project, illustrates digital media's 
potential to shrink production and distribution costs with his 
new project, The Strand: Venice CA. Each "webisode" of this dig- 
itally filmed ensemble drama can be viewed online in streaming 
video, downloaded for later viewing, or purchased on DVD. The 
writing, directing, acting, music, and production values are all 
professional quality, and the first few episodes were done on loca- 
tion for a total budget of $75,000. 

"You've already got the largest distribution network in the 
world on your desktop, and the end-user experience is getting 
better every day," Myrick says. "Unlike a Fox show that needs 
three million viewers a week or it's canceled, I only need a frac- 
tion of that and I can be filming forever. At Sundance, we were 
the oniy ones out there not looking for distribution." 

The question is: Will Myrick's model be sustainable? In a 
highly controversial ruling upheld by the Supreme Court last 
year in Brand X, the Federal Communications Commission 
(FCC) decided cable companies were exempt from "common 
carrier" regulation. The FCC then extended that exemption to 
telephone companies' DSL and fiber broadband service. 



July 2006 | The Independent 45 




For many low-budget films, like The Strand, above, the internet 
is an utter necessity 



broadband consumers, the marketplace isn't competitive. 

Recently, the FCC issued a "Policy Statement" expressing a 
preference for "Net Neutrality" — open, "neutral" broadband 
networks that give consumers the freedom to surf anywhere they 
please. But many criticize the statement as unenforceable and 
full of loopholes that would not prevent cable or phone compa- 
nies from exercising gatekeeper power. 

Meanwhile, cable- and telco-supported legislation working its 
way through both the House and Senate would further weaken 
these already insufficient FCC Net Neutrality provisions. Many 
advocates, including the Center for Creative Voices in Media, are 
calling on both the FCC and Congress to guarantee the right of 
Americans to access the entire internet over broadband. 

For filmmakers like Myrick who hoped that broadband would 
give them more distribution autonomy, the outcome of Brand X 
may simply be that they will have a new internet distribution 
partner to contend with — their friendly neighborhood cable and 
telephone companies — who, despite their different suits, may be 
more powerful than ever. * 

Just before this printing, a bipartisan majority on the House 
Judiciary Committee passed the "Internet Freedom and 
Nondiscrimination Act, " which would use antitrust law to protect 
Net Neutrality. 

Jon Rintels is the executive director of the Center for Creative 
Voices in Media and has been a member ofWGA west since 1982. 
www. creativevoices. us. 



All this regulatory mumbo-jumbo means that the 
cable and telephone companies that provide broad- 
band internet service are free to control all content 
over their wires before it reaches their customer. 
They can discriminate or block websites. They can 
degrade one website's video stream in favor of 
another that pays them a fee for carriage. They can 
offer only a "proprietary" internet of favored web- 
sites. If a customer types in a website, these broad- 
band gatekeepers have the power to divert him or 
her to another website, presumably one that pays 
the provider a fee for diverting the customer. 

Will these companies use — and abuse — this 
power? Consider the remarks of Ed Whitacre, 
CEO of AT&T: "How do you think they're going 
to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe? 
Cable companies have them. We have them. Now 
what they would like to do is use my pipes for free, 
but I ain't going to let them..." 

In a competitive marketplace, Mr. Whitacre's 
wish to control and extract tolls from the compa- 
nies whose content flows over his broadband 
"pipes" wouldn't matter so much because his cus- 
tomers could choose to go elsewhere. But accord- 
ing to the FCC's July 2005 report on High Speed 
Internet Access, in December 2004 approximately 
94 percent of Americans subscribing to high-speed 
internet access received it from their local cable or 
telephone company. Today's reality is that for many | nt ernet-sawy Daniel Myrick (right) gives instructions to cameraman Mike 

Marshall 




46 The Independent | July 2006 



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For years, the holy grail of independent distribution 
was Miramax. Then mid-sized companies like 
ThinkFilm, Magnolia Pictures, and IFC Films 
emerged around the millennium, while mini-majors 
such as Sony Classics formed to compete with the Weinsteins. 
Meanwhile, smaller, mom-and-pop operations, trusted for 
their integrity — Kino, New Yorker, and Zietgeist — inhabited 
a less flashy, but still important place on the distribution land- 
scape. And those are just theatrical. The pot of gold for docu- 
mentarians has long been HBO, followed closely by 
Showtime, and the Sundance Channel, with cable giants like 
A&E and Discovery also sporting their own documentary 
arms. But the distribution structure is continually morphing, 
theatrical release and television broadcast are quickly becom- 



ing outdated. With Netflix, MySpace, video-on-demand, and 
download-to-own, our models for consumption are rapidly 
changing, and the future, judging from the wide range of 
experts' predictions, is still undeterminable. 

Molly Thompson, head of A&E IndieFilms, the cable net- 
works new feature documentary division, believes the social 
experience that has defined the movies for the past century will 
never fully be replaced by home technology. "It is the filmmak- 
er's passion to see their work in front of an audience," she says. 
But Marie Therese Guirgis, until very recently the head of 
acquisitions at Wellspring Media (Genius Products, owned by 
the Weinstein Company, shut down Wellspring's theatrical unit 
at the end of February), argues that theatrical may indeed 
become extinct and perhaps sooner rather than later. "People in 



July 2006 | The Independent 47 




Independent filmmakers currently have more options for self-distribution than ever before 

the industry have wanted theatrical to die for a long time. It is Entertainment Group to make their mainstream studio films 
the most expensive form of distribution, and companies usual- available for purchase through BitTorrent. While this doesn't 
ly lose money, which they make up in TV and video," she says. exactly shut the independent filmmaker out of the equation, it 
But she adds that many of the people buying DVDs for video marks a disturbing pattern where visionaries attempt to radical- 
stores or other distribution outlets are "still beholden to a ize media, only to merge with and be tamed by Hollywood's 
notion of theatrical release as arbiter of success. It's not gonna centralized model in the end. The more positive way to look at 
die in the next couple years." this though is that Big Hollywood has finally decided to join the 

"The theatrical run of a film in nearly all cases, even studio visionaries in making their content available to more people 
films, isn't where money is made on movies," says Agnes through alternative channels. And BitTorrent insists that they 
V